Sunday, May 07, 2006

Down on the farm

I had the opportunity to get out of the Twin Cities this weekend, which for a displaced country boy like myself is always a treat. I got to go visit my Aunt Ann and Uncle Jim down on the farm near St. Peter, MN, a beautiful city nestled along the scenic Minnesota River Valley.

My Mom's side of the family, the Olmanson's, came from a small Norwegian community on the outskirts of St. Peter called Norseland. Norseland consists of a couple of quaint churches, a feed store, and a general store that is (sadly) closing after its 148th year of operation. It is an area with some beautiful countryside, and it is steeped in Norwegian tradition.

Most of you know that my Grandparents passed away last fall, so this has been, without question, a year of change. I always enjoyed their farm, and I can recall many family holidays and summer vacations as a kid visiting my Grandparents, hanging out in the barn or the machine shed, riding on the tractor with Grandpa, helping Grandma make the traditional Norwegian lefse at Christmas, and playing with all the dogs and cats. It was great fun!

There is still no shortage of animals on the farm. Along with Maggie, the golden lab, and the numerous kitty cats, Jim and Ann have four beautiful Percheron horses. It is astonishing to me how big these animals are, and they are really gentle giants. Jim will actually use them as work horses, and they have made appearances at various local parades and events.

I had a really nice time visiting with Jim and Ann. It was great to see the old farm again, and the weather couldn't have been any nicer this weekend. Lots of sunshine and blue skies, which we really appreciate here in Minnesota! And, to keep an heirloom in the family, I got to bring home the writing desk from my Grandparents' kitchen. An honor, indeed.

One of the other benefits of my trip was getting to stop at Schmidts Meat Market in Nicollet, MN. If you were raised in rural Minnesota, chances are good that you know where there is an excellent country meat market. There are plenty of good ones, and everyone has their favorite. Our favorite is Schmidts.

Schmidts is a shrine, as far as I am concerned. It is an old-school German meat market. How old-school, you ask? Well, they don't even have a web site, as far as I can tell! :) But seriously, going there is nearly a religious experience for any meat aficionado. The moment you walk in, you are hit with this ethereal, sweet, smoky smell. It is absolutely intoxicating. The place is always busy and packed with people. They make the best sausage products I have ever had, and they have a meat counter than is second to none. If you ever find yourself anywhere near St. Peter or Mankato, you need to seek this out. I promise you, it will be worth it!

OK, I know this blog is supposed to be about running. But, life is about more than just running, so I hope you don't mind me going off on a tangent, because that is likely to happen a LOT! :) I did squeeze in an "accidental" 7 mile run on Sunday. I say that because I had intended to only do about a 10k distance, but the creek had flooded a portion of the trail I was running on. There was just no way to get across. I had to backtrack, which added at least another 3/4 mile! It still felt good. That was one of the longer runs I had done in some time, and I did it without much effort, so that was reassuring. This gives me confidence that I have a solid fitness base in order to begin my marathon training. Also, it was just plain fun! It reminded me of my training runs last summer, so I am starting to look forward to some of my longer weekend runs now.

Until next time,

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