Weekend Coffee Share: Strawberries, Anyone?

If we were having coffee, I’d probably be thanking you for swinging by the coffee shop and picking something up for me on your way here.  You’ll find me at my family’s farm, way out in the back fields.  It’s strawberry season, which means I work on weekends.  Don’t worry about getting lost–there are maps located in the black mailbox fixed to the orchard sign to pick up as you drive in.  When you get to the patch, you will most likely find me under the canopy greeting customers and handling check-out. Continue reading

A Great Day for a Parade

One of the greatest delights in small-town Minnesota are summer festivals.  Every town has one.  If you wanted, you could attend one every week of the summer.  These festivals often feature a special 5K race, a craft fair with all kinds of food stalls, and an evening parade.  Since I was in marching band back in high school, I played my flute in all the local parades.

This past weekend was Wannigan Days–a particularly special event, as it features not one town, but two!  Every year, St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin teams up with Taylors Falls, Minnesota.  The towns exist in different states, on opposite sides of the St. Croix River.  The multi-state participation, in addition to the gorgeous scenery, makes for a memorable time!

The thing about small town parades is that they’re SO small-town.  Elected royalty from all the local communities dress up, smile, and wave on their platformed floats.  Businesses and organizations make appearances, tossing frisbees into crowds and handing out magnets.  Political candidates smile and wave, slapping “VOTE FOR ME” stickers on audience members.  Marching bands play patriotic anthems that are slightly off-key.  The local football team blasts kids with super-soakers.  Finally, all the fire trucks from the surrounding towns steamroll by, signaling the conclusion of another year’s show.

My mother is a member of the Falls Chamber of Commerce, an organization that strives to unify the communities and promote local businesses.  Every year, they have a float in the Wannigan Days Parade.  This year, they were relatively short-staffed and I was enlisted to help.

The parade was relatively short–ten blocks down the main street of St. Croix Falls, cross the bridge over the river to get to Minnesota, and four blocks through Taylors Falls.

My job was simple: Throw candy.  One of the prominent chamber members bought $250 of treats, so I was free to lavish it on all the happy children in the crowd.  It was an easy task.  All I had to do was smile and toss handfulls of goodies to everyone under the age of fifteen. As I was going to sleep last night, all I could think about was how happy the kids were.  They line up along the curb with bags in their little hands, waiting.  Barely able to contain themselves, they bounce up and down.  Their little eyes absolutely glow.  Sometimes, I teased them.  “You want candy?” I asked.  “I don’t know if you’re excited enough!!”  Of course, this only made them squirm more.

Just imagining their faces makes me smile.

I remember being one of those kids.  When you’re little, you wait ALL SUMMER for parades.  When they finally come, you take your position on the edge of the street and are like, “THIS IS MY MOMENT!!!”  My brothers and I were ruthless.  We would dive-bomb and shove each other out of the way just for a little piece of candy.  When it was all over, we would spread our bounty on the carpet at home, count them up, and make trades to get rid of the varieties we didn’t like.

These events hold a special place in my heart and I loved every second of being part of them again.  As my old marching band teacher always said way back when: “It’s a great day for a parade!”

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Downtown Taylors Falls. Taken mid-parade.

You know you’ve been at camp too long when…

You feel like a rebel for wearing shoes.

No matter how many times you wash it, your raincoat permanently smells like the Brule.

Your first urge while walking into church is to break out dancing and wonder why no one else is.

You believe deep down that a lake shower is equivalent to a real shower.

You shout “TTO” everywhere you go and people stare at you like you’re some kind of weirdo.

You’ve convinced so many campers that cooties are real that you half believe in them yourself.

You can quote the all the Rejected Sports videos line by line.

You start chanting “USA” everywhere you go.

On Wednesdays, you cook all your food over a fire.

You find yourself putting random Bible verses to songs and singing them to everyone you see on the street and are confused why they don’t give you cabin points.

You feel sick at the smell of standard shaving cream from Day Camp water day.

You start listening to the “Church Clap” for fun.

You’re shocked when you see people in two-piece swimsuits that aren’t modest tankinis.

You’re convinced that the dirt layer on your feet is a tan.

You start jumping into the nearest body of water with your clothes on purely out of habit.

“Can we blow that up?” is a serious question.

You ask small children in public where their counselor is.

You start wearing your staff shirt every Sunday and Friday purely out of habit.

Every time you make a decision, you ask yourself, “Is this something that Jeff would fire me for?”

You have legitimate nightmares about having to choose between canoeing down the Brule or running Day Camp.

You have more merchandise from your camp than from your college.

You get campsick instead of homesick.

(Most of these are from fellow staff members, a couple are original.)

Friday Favorites

I’ve been trying to get myself back in the blogging habit since camp is over… what better way than with another edition of Friday Favorites?

So… the Friday Favorites are…

1. PR 6

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During the last week of camp, there were no churches in need of Shamineau Day Camp.  What were two Day Camp directors to do?  Easy.  Become counsellors!  It was like returning to my roots.  I was reminded how much I love counseling, but at the same time, why I don’t do it anymore.  It’s exhausting!  But oh, so rewarding.  We had ten campers.  They were wonderful–silly, creative, and fun, and loved learning more about God.  I had some of the best one-on-ones that I’ve ever had.  And, at the end, we won Cabin of the Week!

2. Juliet Marillier

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I first discovered Marillier’s greatness in her Young Adult novel, Wildwood Dancing.  I loved it so much I read it about five times in a row.  Since then, she’s become one of my favorite fantasy writers.  It’s to the point where I will read anything she writes.  (Yes, that includes grocery lists.)  Her novels usually feature a smart, independent heroine with deep connections to family who gets swept away on some kind of adventure.  They’re heavily steeped in folklore, which I adore.

In the past week, I’ve read two of her novels–the final two of her Sevenwaters series.  They were so good I read them in a day each, staying up well past midnight to read the final chapters.  Best feeling in the world right there.

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3. This Song

After my early summer Cloud Cult obsession faded, it was replaced by a deep love for Rend Collective.  They’re a folksy Christian band with a passion for authentic, joyful worship.  Normally, I’m not one to listen to Christian music, but I make an exception here.  They capture the heart of what it means to worship–the rawness, the joy of coming before God.  They recorded their first album around a campfire, which is pretty awesome.  And they’re Irish!

And… that’s all for today!  Stay tuned for more posts!  I’m hoping to be writing more frequently now that I actually have consistent computer access.