On February 22 and February 23, 2005, I drove from Fairwater, Wisconsin, to Moorhead, Minnesota, where I was to make three presentations at Minnesota State University as the first Tom McGrath Visiting Writer of the spring semester. I stayed overnight at my parent's house in Faribault, Minnesota, on Tuesday the 22nd, then continued to Moorhead on Wednesday the 23rd. This is a report of that two days of driving across Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The ditches through here
have a little more snow in them.
Here's a big ol' tree with seven big trunks coming up off the main base. I suppose they're leaving it stand there because she's quite a matriarch. It is back from the road just barely far enough to let the ditch through, and not any farther. She looks pretty tall and proud. She looks like she has seen a lot. It'd be nice to know what the tree knows, wouldn't it? "Trees are at least as intelligent as elephants," Ben says, "and they have longer memories." Some of them show us where the water is, and some of them show us which way the wind blows.
And this is Benson. 12:28 p.m. The Benson Manufacturing Center is on the southeast edge of town along Highway 12. They're building something for J.I. Case at one facility. There is a big John Deere dealer right at the edge of Benson; a lot of equipment sitting out in the yard there. You suppose they're wondering whether they're going to sell any of it this season.
Counseling center. Lumberyard. Buick/GM dealer. Elevator. Apartments. Flower Basket Nursery and Green House. Benson Liquors. Phillips 66. Cenex. The intersection with Highway 9. I think Highways 12 and 9 run together for awhile in town.
Family Dollar. When Family Dollar comes to town, does that mean you're doing well enough to have poor people? A chiropractic clinic. A Sinclar gas station. Glacial Plains Co-operative along the railroad tracks. Dairy Queen, closed for the season. The community's swimming pool is closed for the season, too.
I'm crossing the Chippewa River.
Morris, Minnesota, 24 miles.
There's an old hotel out from town a bit; it doesn't look like it has been lived in since the last snowfall, at least. Snow covers the parking lot.
And there's a factory of some kind west of town, but I don't know what? It looks as if they do something with grain; there are a lot of grain elevators nearby. Also oil tankers, too; what would they be for? Sunflower oil, maybe?
Clontarf, pop. 173. Must be a fellow's name. A small place on the landscape, mostly residential. Something in the way of an elevator along the railroad tracks. Most of the rest of the town is houses.
These people out here are going to wave at you whether you wave at them or not: I meet this pick-up coming at me; the driver's finger pops a greeting.
And all of a great sudden out here it seems really flat. Really really flat. Right where we cross the very southwestern corner of Pope County. You'd have to say this is prairie.
Now just this quick we're entering Stevens County.
I'm driving 65 m.p.h. in a 55 zone, and a pick-up comes around me like I'm not. North Dakota plates. In North Dakota you live so far from where you're going that you have to speed to get there before it's gone.
To be continued....