Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


At least I didn't hit the deer

Being retired has some perks.
Thanks to my flexible schedule, I can give some of my time to the Minnesota Education Association - the statewide teacher union - to provide presentations about topics important to teachers and education. I’d tell you more, but that’s not what this column is about. What’s important for you to know, in this case, is that I am occasionally sent to various places all over the state in order to meet with teachers at their various school districts.
This past weekend, I was in the iron range.
Since I was there on Friday and Saturday, while we were still in the deep freeze, I did worry about my sanity. Who goes north when the weather is frigid?  Well, I guess I do, among others…
But even while I contracted myself as deeply into my coat as possible, I couldn’t help enjoying and appreciating the landscape. Those of you who have been there are probably nodding your heads. 
Up there near Virginia there are colossal excavations which seem to go down forever. Driving on the bridges that cross one of them was so fascinating to me that I was tempted to stop and look over the edge.  I didn’t, of course. First of all, it would have been very dangerous there in the middle of traffic: more importantly, the temperature was near zero and there was a sharp wind.
Then, towering over the landscape next to the excavations were astoundingly large mounds of “waste” material–the broken-up rock left behind after the iron was removed. It was all so surreal it was burdensome to have to keep my eyes on the road.
I was also recently sent over toward Moorehead, toward the “bump” on Minnesota’s western border.
The landscape over there consisted of wooded, rolling hills. There, the road would top a rise and present a view of the road ahead which reminded me of a roller coaster. Not that it was particularly curvy, but that there was a fast angle downward, a quick moment at the bottom, and then another high hill ahead. One big difference from the northeast, I felt no desire to stop at all–only to keep moving forward through those exciting, beautiful hills.
I tempered my speed, though.  The night before I had come across four or more vehicles parked on both sides of the road with their headlights and hazard lights flashing. I approached slowly. It was only when I was in among them that I realized why they were standing there: there had been what our sheriff Jay Dulas refers to as a “car versus deer” accident. You will not want any more details than for me to tell you that things were a mess.
Fortunately for me, my hilly drive took place in daylight, so I could hope to avoid any utterly sudden surprises.
One other interesting point.
As most of you know, I was an English language arts teacher in New Richland for most of 30 years. Whenever I was asked to describe the district, I often used the words “quiet,” “rural,” and “small.”
But guess what?  Up at the iron range I was giving my presentation to about 35 people. One participant approached me and asked whether I remembered teaching a member of the Purdie family. Then she informed me she is married to one of my former students! Way up there, more than four hours from home.
Over in the west, I was approached by one of the teachers in the session. “Don’t I know you?” he asked. Turns out it was Andrew Peterson, who had also been a teacher at NRHEG for a time.
I know we’re all acquainted with stories of amazing coincidences. Now I’ve added two more to my collection.


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