Monday, October 27, 2014

Orange and royal blue: the 2014 World Series

World Series baseball isn’t on TV tonight. The series has played through Game 5 and a break is in order.

We all need a rest, if you will, from the exertions of cheering our teams of choice. The San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals are swinging the big bats and what an October they’re giving us.

Major League baseball has a day off as the teams fly back to Kansas City to complete the series. It’s Game 6 tomorrow. It may take a seventh game before they’re through. 

San Francisco leads Kansas City by one game in a well matched series. It crackles with purpose and seethes with excitement. 

Al and I try to recall what we were doing with our evenings on the other side of the wholesale TV viewing which began with Game 1 in Kansas City last Tuesday. 

Tonight (I say this with a sigh of relief) we can dispense with the obligation of making popcorn. It’s a start toward eventual postseason normality. 

Popcorn has accompanied each game so far. Making popcorn for the games is the best fan support we could think of, and the crunching and munching help defray rattled nerves. 

America is being treated to super baseball. You want to root for both teams. The quality of play is outstanding. 

The players are quick and bold. They’re scrappy, brazen even, with their strategies when the ace pitchers of either side don't freeze them out. 

This is the year of dueling pitchers for sure. San Francisco’s ace Madison Bumgarner, 25 years old, had everyone in awe last night. 

Several games haven’t ended close in score. You wouldn’t have predicted this from some of the innings, which have been very tight competition. 

Each team has had innings of being held off again and again as the ball sails across home plate and there’s failure to connect, get on base or bring in a run. 

Then the other team is at bat. They’re similarly held in check by brilliant pitching and defense. These are the innings when nothing seems to happen except the slow fraying of your patience as you will your team to step up and act. 

The team who’s ahead in a game can't be complacent. A lead by the other team is a stolen base or crack of the bat away. Each team (as the other side is aware) is capable of instantaneously rewriting the script for the game. 

There are times I look over the ball park and can believe the players are in combat stance as in the jousting fields of old. These are men who, in fighting spirit, go back to medieval ancestors. 

They appear to be connecting with mighty warrior forebears in the steel they show as they face their opponents through sequences of innings that demand stamina and strength. 

If you’re not a baseball fan here’s the pitch to get on board. There’s no better moment than now. 

See for yourself what baseball excitement is about. You pick a good time. The 2014 World Series is sure to bring new interest to the sport through the sterling performance of both teams. 

Line up with the Giant fans and their waving orange towels, or shout yourself hoarse with the rabid Royals fan base. Root for both if you can’t decide, but take my advice and put some baseball fever into your fall mix. 

There’s a bunch of us on cue for tomorrow's ball to be thrown out. We’ll be ready for resumption of a baseball match that’s been giant in mastery and royal in class.

The 2014 World Series championship is still to be decided. It’s a guess which team will ultimately claim the baseball trophy. Both teams have been tested. Both are deserving. We stay tuned. 

Ro Giencke - October 27, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Stocking up on October

It’s beautiful October in the Midwest. We’re soaking it in. 

The month is a free show. All we have to do is be here to enjoy it.

The patchwork countryside, as the hills burst into seasonal shades of russet, yellow, orange and brown, is the thrill of glory as natural daylight wanes and nights grow cool.

The clash of bright colors adds rich seasonal vitality to the landscape soon to go bare. We stock up on this kind of weather.

It’s like putting a 100-pound bag of potatoes in the cellar to feed you through winter. It’s a reserve you count on. It keeps you going. It's like money in the bank to have any precious or necessary supply laid in.

I reckon October is also like a landing on a stairway. Midway through it lets you catch your breath. You can enjoy where you are before you continue on.

While color has been exceptional I won't wager it has outshone previous years. They’re all breathtaking as you live them.

Some years do stand out by specific images of trees whose brightness burns into your memory, or because of special trips or drives made to see the color. 

Year to year you forget the breathtaking effect of the changing colors. It’s like seeing them for the first time to see them again.

The fiery hues of a few weeks ago are dulling. The canvas is getting bare. Windy weather is helping with the process. Leaves are falling by the bushel load.

It’s no wonder in the summer, with leaves large and firmly attached, as if they came that way from the start, trees are such dense green screens. So many leaves!

When the leaves tumble from the skies in their autumn dance they collect in deep piles on the lawns. They swirl into house corners as if already thinking of shelter from the cold days to come.

A considerable number of leaves wind up on driveways and front steps. They’re swept or blown off repeatedly in what is an annual rite of clearing away.

Al and I note that our golden highway is no more. It’s the name we give our street at this time of year. 

At peak color the mature plantings of maples in nearby front yards become a golden canopy overhead. We’re uplifted by the sight of them as we pass under.

Their luster has dimmed the past few days. The gleaming golden roof we look up into, with awe and surprise that catches us each time, has mostly been shed.

Outside work is getting done. The pleasant temperatures make home chores an active and satisfying preparation for winter. 

I washed the sliding deck windows, wondering how they get so dirty. Wind was my guess as I carefully tried not to streak the glass. Wind flings dust and grit. 

Today I removed a bunch of fallen leaves from the deck. When all was done I discovered a small trick was played on me as I worked. 

One perfect yellow leaf sat, as if arranged, in the middle of a deck chair just brushed clean of the damp residue of leaves left from overnight sprinkles. It fell the moment I turned away. 

The leaf was prettily shaped. It reminded me of leaves you single out from the others as a child to collect and bring to school for show.

“Count on it,” I believe the leaf would say if it could think or had a voice, “you’ll shovel the deck of leaves soon again, for of my kind there are plenty more.”

Not all leaves were as attractive this year as the one which preened on the deck chair for me to notice. Not every tree, as with not every leaf, winds up visually stunning in the fall.

Along with wide areas of extreme color were equal spaces of faded greens and washed-out yellows. Nature plays her cards her own way.

All the leaves will be missed, whether vivid in color or fading into the background. It’s a long season of stark and bare on the other side of this.

By stocking up on October we hold to fall a little longer. It’s what we can wish our leaves, as they sail by and skip along, would consider to do. 

Not a chance now as the leaves steadily fall. The request will have to go in for next year.

Ro Giencke – October 23, 2014


Friday, October 17, 2014

In the Arboretum gardens

What a difference a day makes. 

Yesterday we reached 70 degrees. Today was windy, gray and cool.

November establishes outposts long before it arrives. Today is a reminder of that. Today’s weather is not untypical for this time of year.

Seventy degrees like yesterday happens in our part of the Midwest. It’s not a common October temperature. We certainly don’t take warm days given us now for granted.

One October reading in the 70s is about normal for us. There have been three this month. Rather a marvel to make it to three. Cool and windy has defined a good portion of the fall.

We were at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum yesterday. Bright foliage and blue sky made for a treat. Aware of the imminent dip in temperatures we wanted to capitalize on the phenomenal Thursday. Evidently, so did everyone else.

Schools were out Thursday and Friday. It was because of the state teachers conference. It's held annually this week in October. 

We used to call it MEA weekend. There's been a name change since our kids were in school. My family looked forward to this weekend which comes six weeks after the start of school. We used it for visiting the grandparents. 

For me MEA sticks better than the new name which I don't hear often enough to put into mind. It remains a special weekend separating the start of fall from the settled-in later parts of it

The Arboretum was packed when we arrived. It was mid-morning and parking space was at a premium. Car lines through the gates continued all day.

Students home from school were there with parents and grandparents. These intergenerational groups made up a large number of the visitors.

It was like a giant field day to see so many school-age visitors. The only element missing was the yellow school buses parked to the side waiting for their student loads.

This isn’t the first blog that has told about the Arboretum. Seeking harmony in nature it comes naturally to want to share this spot. This inviting space makes many happy to the core. It rejuvenates with each visit.

The rolling grounds not far from the Twin Cities are beautiful at all seasons. It can be hard to choose one favorite time. Plenty of us come as often as we can.

Winter brings a hush to the white hills. The cold season offers trails to hike or ski when the planting beds are covered with snow and areas are fenced to keep out deer.

Spring with its myriads of ornamental tree blossoms, and stunning arrays of tulips and other first flowers, is easily considered prime visit time. 

Others opt for the next phase, when the roses and their scents spill down their terraces and vivid shades describe the late summer blooms.

Then we come to fall. Fall holds particular sway, from the gorgeous sugar maples firing up the countryside to the last quiet colors before killing frost.

In October, borrowing from nature, the Arboretum creates its own take on the season with a harvest theme exhibition called “Scarecrows in the Gardens.”

The entrance to the planted areas this month introduces the display of fanciful scarecrows and folk art. 

The scarecrows are decorated or outfitted in vegetable garb. They’re put together with gourds, pumpkins and squash. Straw, berries, fronds and other whimsical touches add to their features.

The scarecrows delight all ages. You can gauge their effect by the clumps of folks who gather around each artwork, smile broadly, comment spontaneously and then move on. 

As well as fun the scarecrows are fabulous photo-ops. Parents (and grandparents) were snapping away yesterday.

Enjoyment was palpable. The kids present ensured a kinetic energy. Meanwhile, with an energy level also to be admired, a group of volunteers (probably volunteers) was planting tulips.

The promise of spring was in each tulip bulb being planted. The autumn sun wasn’t a promise but a reality. It nicely warmed the backs of those who worked in the annual beds.

With camera along, and scouting for pictures to take, Al came upon the tulip planters. I didn’t see them.

Perhaps this when I was finding the sunglasses. They were a brand name pair of sunglasses. They looked expensive and modern. They had pink frames. 

The sunglasses lay, quite incongruously, in a flower bed. The frames, which if you hurried by you might have interpreted as a pretty pastel bloom in the greenery, caught my eye. 

The sunglasses must have tumbled from a pocket or slipped off the top of someone’s head. I took them to the front counter. Someone maybe missed them before they left and thought to go to Lost and Found.

Both of us noticed that many beds have been cleared for the season. Fall has a tidying-up look that speaks of endings and change.

There are flowers still in bloom. The leggy dahlias are the drawing card on the trail that leads up and past the peony row. I check on the peonies, loyal to the magnificence they bring to their walkway in early June.   

I notice the berries on  the Arboretum shrubs and trees. Berries are among the details I’ve begun to note as more time is spent at the Arboretum. 

It's become a hobby with me to observe the small things. Much of beauty is in the minor notes.

Wildlife is noticing the berries too. They’ll come to feast on them. It assures a continual buffet for the season ahead.  

Ro Giencke – October 17, 2014


Monday, October 13, 2014

Second Rendezvous with Sacagawea

It’s always great to be in Kansas City and revisit the master touches of its beautiful old buildings, fountains and shaded boulevards.

It’s a little bit like Europe touching down on the prairies and going head to head with the raw and muscular personification of the pioneer West.

The area was gateway to the western trails long before the vision of urban beauty of a century ago came to pass. Vital, vigorous, sleek and sophisticated, Kansas City today shows its many sides letting us take our pick.

Charleston, Savannah, New York City and a handful of other locales come to mind as getaways for the romantically inclined. After this most recent trip we’re in favor of adding Kansas City to those at the top of the list.

Romance came to us not in the Plaza district (it’s there and we’ll be back for it) but elsewhere in town. The romance we found we sought out in the form of a bronze monument set high on a bluff.

Looking online for Kansas City attractions we saw Ermine Case Jr. Park. We noticed it because a statue of Lewis and Clark is mentioned in conjunction with it.

My interest in the Lewis and Clark Expedition goes back a long way. 

Nor was this the first statue connected to the Lewis and Clark Expedition to pique our interest (see “Gathering of Greatness,” a 2006 post, included in online book Years of Grace, Days of Understanding @

Al went along with my desire to find the statue (both times). Therein, for me, lies the crux of romance.

Romance isn’t just fine words and fluttering hearts. It’s seeing what’s innermost in a loved one’s heart and rising to meet it in an act of generosity that becomes a gift mutually shared.

Getting to Case Park tested us. We weren’t far from it as we proceeded with GPS directions from our current stop. Directions got muddled along the way.

It was the reality of road construction or road closures or something. We were momentarily distracted and for a short time totally confused.

Driving directions as simple or difficult are often determined by the direction from which you come. Some routes don’t lend easily to straightforward directions and this is what happened to us.

Questioning the park’s whereabouts, as we fell to doing en route, gave us to feel as if the Corps of Discovery statue was hidden off in some remote area. Looking for it, it didn’t strike us as a park out in the open. This can keep some folks away.

One’s tendency is to visit something if it’s a piece of cake to find. It really helped that the stop was so worthwhile when we did arrive at the park. We’d come close to giving up.

Case Park (as the name is often shortened to) and the Lewis and Clark monument are  at 8th and Jefferson streets on Quality Hill.

Once a neighborhood of fine homes between Wyandotte Street and the west bluffs, and then gone shabby over time, Quality Hill (like many grand neighborhoods of the past) is currently being rehabbed. It’s being reestablished  as a district with a hip address.

The park is atop a 2000 ft bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kansas River with the Missouri River. It hangs above the rail yards that fill the river bottoms. It affords sweeping views. It gives the sense of the West opening up right before you. 

The commemorative piece, the work of sculptor Eugene Daub, was done in 2000 and heroic in size, measuring 21 feet across and 18 feet high.

Meriweather Lewis, William Clark and Sacagawea, Shoshone guide and translator, who stands with them in bronze posterity, are depicted as key figures of the 1804-1806 exploratory voyage undertaken, under the aegis of the US government, to the Pacific Ocean and back.

The three are portrayed visually by the characteristics which were their personal contributions to the physically demanding endeavor.

Clark, his leadership skills evident in his commanding frame, holds a telescope (or some instrument) in his hands, peering westward.

Lewis, his quiet mien and keen scientist mind the perfect balance to Clark 's decisive manner, rests his journal on his knees as though in the very act of entering that day’s account.

His taut lean shape gives the impression that observation and recording are inherent gifts for which the expedition was a destined match. 

You can believe the journal on his knees came into the world with him, part of his birthright, as it lies comfortably spread out before him where he is about to write into it.

Sacagawea has a far-seeing expression and rapt gaze. Like the two men she looks to the West. Her gaze might be interpreted differently, however. What she sees isn’t the unknown. It’s home.

She is born of the Plains and Western high country. She uses this familiarity of place and native knowledge of the natural world to help inform the expedition in their route through the Rocky Mountains.

She’s the miracle worker for the Corps in so many ways that, as I think about it, it makes me want to read the journals all over again.

Missed on our visit are the three other figures which complete the sculpture. We’re not sure how they were an oversight but can guess.

Afternoon sun, full on Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea, may have been strong enough to shade the other figures positioned on the other side of the sculpture.

We were caught up in the expressions and stances of Clark, Sacagawea and Lewis. 

They're truly riveting as rendered. Our inspection of the three, each in turn, and marveling at the scope of the statue as it draws you into it, no doubt drew all our attention.

At home, doing online search on this statue that wowed us, a surprise was revealed. 

Clark’s slave York, the Newfoundland dog Seaman (bought by Lewis as he prepared for the expedition) and Sacagawea’s son Jean Baptiste, all members of the Corps, were inadvertently overlooked by us.

Jean Baptiste was the son of Sacajawea and Touissaint Charbonneau, hired by Lewis and Clark as an interpreter (thereby acquiring Sacagawea’s help for free).  

He was born February 11, 1805 while the Corps were at their first winter camp in present day North Dakota.

The baby boy traveled with the exploring party until their return to the Mandan villages in August 1806 when he was 1½ years old. 

He was carried on Sacagawea’s back and as a passenger in the boats that transported the crew deep into the interior and back east again.

The toddler was called Pomp by William Clark. Clark was fond of him. 

When Charbonneau was paid for his services, and his family ended its time with the Corps, which still had a month of downriver travel ahead of them, Clark offered to take Pomp. 

It was agreed among them that at some later date, if this could work out, it would be done.

The statue places York and Seaman facing east. They cover Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea’s backs literally and figuratively. They’re put this way to make a point I believe.

After giving due prominence to Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea it’s my opinion Daub arranged the others to represent the watchful surveillance of the Corps as they traversed the wilderness across tribal territories.

The statue conveys the constancy of watch practiced by the Corps. They were continually scanning the horizon. They scouted diligently. All eyes were needed to take in and note the important.

By such vigilance, and careful scrutiny of the lands beyond the Mississippi, newly purchased by the young Federal government, the Corps of Discovery were able to accomplish their amazing feat.

They returned without the loss of a single person except the unfortunate Sgt. Charles Floyd. He died of what is presumed was a ruptured appendicitis in the early phase of the expedition and is buried at Sioux City, Iowa.

The secondary figures in the sculpture also suggest to me the richer, fuller story of the Corps of Discovery. The six figures, put together as a whole, are intrinsically linked as I see it. 

They’re above the other relationships that were forged and refined on this journey. They’re set apart and made as one by a certain degree of service, loyalty, respect and friendship.

The point of land with the statue is called Clark’s Point. There’s a sign (as we recall) that quotes from William Clark’s journal for September 15, 1806 in which he notes the strategic value of the bluff for a fort.

The Corps are nearing their return. They’re closing in on St. Louis where their voyage began. Lewis and Clark continue to enter notes in their journals on aspects of the land they pass by on the Missouri River.

In theory they’re in home territory. They could be excused, after two years of meticulous note taking, for laying down their writing instruments and calling it a good trip well done. 

Dutiful to the last they continue with their logs. Their wonder and scientific interest remain intact, and their entries will pass into history as a record of one of our country's most dangerous and ultimately finest adventures. 

Clark’s journal for the day of his climb to present day Clark’s Point mentions several deer swimming the river shortly after they start out in a stiff breeze. 

He notes an afternoon stop “to let the men gather Pappaws or the Custard apple of which this Country abounds, and the men are very fond of.”

In between the deer and "Pappaws" is the climb up the steep bluff, which is come to in late forenoon after passing the entrance of the “Kanzas” (Kansas) River.

Clark notes the river is very low, adding that about a mile below the confluence they make land at the bluff.

The Journals of Lewis and Clark, from the Project Gutenberg collection, is recommended for those who wish to view the entries from beginning to end. 

Clark’s September 15, 1806 entry, which I found at this site, goes in part:

. . . “we landed and Capt Lewis and my Self ascended a hill which appeared to have a Commanding Situation for a fort, the Shore is bold and rocky immediately at the foot of the hill, from the top of the hill you have a perfect Command of the river, this hill fronts the Kanzas and has a view of the Missouri a Short distance above that river.”

There are heroes and there are those who are brave. This sculpture carries forward as a ringing statement the valor of the Corps of Discovery.

Largely a small body of frontiersmen, with the mettle of survivor skills to keep them fit, they entered into the heart of the American continent with no guarantee they would return. In them we have the very best.

Kansas City can be proud of this statue celebrating the passage of the Corps through the area. This beautiful piece represents what we also can do.

It suggests all things are possible when side by side, and allied by friendship, trust and a common goal, and with great willingness to serve from our abilities, we set out with bold hopes.

Stiff breezes can’t defeat our course when preparation is put in place by being versed in - and ready for - what we give ourselves to do.

Ro Giencke – October 13, 2014





Sunday, October 5, 2014

Finding grandma in Lindsborg, Kansas

Lindsborg is a cute little Kansas town strong on Swedish influence and the home of Bethany College.

It was a planned stop for us on what was mostly a spur of the moment let’s-go-West kind of trip.

My grandma attended Bethany College in the early years of the 20th century. Her student years were long in the past when I came to know about her schooling at Lindsborg.

I was sixteen and gathering information for the family tree I put together that same year. I remember looking up Lindsborg in the atlas. Places have always interested me.

Grandma's additional schooling is a summary of things on many levels. I was aware of this even at sixteen.

It wasn’t typical of farm girls of her generation – she was the daughter of Swedish immigrants – to go beyond an 8th grade country school education. College was educational advancement relatively uncommon for women then.

Grandma's doing so is an accomplishment for those times. It's testimony to her spirit and grit. It shines the light on her as someone with an intention to follow a dream. Conveniently, too, she had an older sister who taught at Bethany College.

Bethany College was an interesting fact filed away and almost forgotten until it surfaced recently to fill me with renewed curiosity.

We went to Lindsborg to find some imprint of my grandma’s time there. The college that furthered her education made me want to see it. I wanted to experience for myself this specific part of Kansas she once called home.

At our daughter’s suggestion our quest led to the campus library. If I checked online there’s a name for this building. We didn’t catch the name when we were there.

Its name went over us in the excitement of closing in on the hunt to find Grandma on her academic turf. We went in the direction pointed out to us as the place to check with and that was good enough.

From Bethany archives we hoped to uncover yearbooks or other materials that could confirm exactly when Grandma was in Kansas for studies. 

We were working off a date mentioned in the family tree. This would be the first reality check to see if the date was correct.

Assisted by a friendly staff person who brought out old college publications that corresponded with the time frame of our search we got down to work.

We took separate tables and spread our stacks around us. We wanted to find Grandma’s name in the worst way.

We’d have to extend the search on either side of the year if we didn’t find her name as a student right off. We were aware it’d be like looking for a needle in a haystack if the date in the family tree proved to be wrong.

We turned the pages one volume after another. We looked for her name under the various headings students were listed.

The research suddenly felt very personal. We weren't here to prove she attended here. My thoughts ran along these lines as I skimmed the lists of students. 

That first fact was established. We knew that part already. Finding her in the student rosters was instead very much like an act of paying honor.

We came to Bethany College to connect with the person my grandma was at that time of her life. We came to let the surroundings which had been her environs sink into us.

We came recognizing Lindsborg as more than a quaint town off the fast roads. It was the place where my grandmother grew into adulthood and took with her whatever lasting influence Bethany College had on her.

In the end we did find my grandma. It wasn't without further search. She is in the student rolls about three years after the date given for Bethany College in the family tree.

The new date leaves a gap in her story. The time we pegged her to be in Kansas she was somewhere else – at home or at a first job. 

That search is for later. Lindsborg was the here and now. We wanted to use the remaining time to see something of this place which drew us from the start.

Lindsborg is a cute little town proud of its Swedish connections. It calls itself “Little Sweden USA.” 

The slogan is on its helpful visitors brochure with listings for lodging, food and places to visit. (I did chuckle when the first thing we saw coming into this most Swedish themed of communities was Pizza Hut!)

It didn’t take five minutes on main street to see there was more to do here than the time allotted for our stay.

Like the two of us, Lindsborg likes its coffee.Coffee first we said, opting for The White Peacock, seeing it first.

Blacksmith Coffee Roastery, up and across the street in a former blacksmith shop, wound up on our radar too but we noticed it second. Both it and The White Peacock came recommended by a friendly professor we afterward met.

The White Peacock was toasty warm. This won points from me, ducking in from a bit of chill in the morning air. The fragrance of coffee enveloped us. Folks were scattered around in comfortable seating. 

The ambience should have been enough to hold me. A back courtyard had first to be examined, however. I pushed through the door entranced by the enclosed outdoor haven.

Twenty extra degrees to the thermometer reading and I wouldn’t come in I decided about the quiet green oasis. 

But the twenty degrees were missing and I trotted inside to find Al where he’d scored a place, suspecting my exploratory tour would be just that.

The sunny room (it faces east) has books (reading and coffee pair well together), art and posters on the walls and a posted menu which listed egg casserole, Swedish pancakes, hash brown patties, burritos and biscuits and gravy. 

It's easy to believe this is a popular spot in this college town.The vitality that percolates through the intimate space is like a second cup of coffee (which we didn’t have, or else would never have gotten away.)   

Joyously decorated Dala horses are a must-see. They’re a “will-see” if you’re anywhere downtown. It’s impossible not to notice them.

See one and you’re caught hook, line and sinker. The cast fiberglass creations in front of businesses are pure magic. Their unique and whimsical designs captivated us. They had us on an impromptu Dala horse count.

We learned the Dala horse originated as folk art in the central Swedish province of Dalarna. In Lindsborg the Dala Horse has been turned into public art.

Local artists give meaning to the word local color in the blithe interpretations, through color, theme and design, their workmanship has provided. 

The Dala horse, which elicits a smile with each sighting, is Lindsborg’s charming symbol of its ties to Sweden.

In a turn off main street there was a moment when I felt Old Sweden had directly opened to me.

Swedish Country Inn on Lincoln Avenue has nailed the picturesque and inviting hospitality of the Swedish homeland. 

Its blue and white overall decoration (or this is the color duet that stays with me) is a peaceful natural palette to rest and restore its fortunate guests.

I peeked in and, like Goldilocks, advanced farther into the front room, which was the lobby. My gaze was everywhere. Each discovery pleased me more.

Simple pine furniture and clean inspired touches are throughout, including the upstairs bedrooms (seeing my interest the friendly wave sent me upstairs to see the unoccupied rooms).

An adjacent breakfast room serves a buffet breakfast open to the public. If the menu mirrors the authenticity of this lovely historic inn the smorgasbord is sure to please.  

The Lindsborg brochure, picked up prior to the visit to Bethany College, didn’t get read until we were back home. 

We missed its tips while in Lindsborg but we see the oversight as a promise we’re meant to return. With the brochure now read the places we want to see (or see again) have been marked.

One intended place is Coronado Heights. The spot is noted in the brochure. 

Coronado Heights is the highest of the Smoky Hills – seven hills in a row we understand – north of town. The Smoky Hills are a distinct range. We commented on them as we approached Lindsborg.

Spanish conquistador Coronado is thought to have gotten to central Kansas in 1541 in his search for gold. The story, as passed down, is that he climbed Coronado Heights to look around.

It makes me wonder if Grandma and college friends, or with her sister (the sister who was an instructor in shorthand and typewriting and is pictured in the publications we looked through) traveled out the few miles to picnic on its heights.

Or from the campus, perhaps, she watched the Kansas sky bloom with sunset color behind Coronado Heights and knew the tug of the West. 

I wonder what my grandma thought of Kansas in general.Perhaps the fields and Lindsborg’s Scandinavian culture, similar to that of her home area, made a comfortable fit.

One can wonder if she remarked on the similarities or compared obvious differences. Perhaps she focused on her courses to the exclusion of anything else. 

Lindsborg may have been a postal address and not much else for my grandma. I can guess she’d have been called an intent student.

Lindsborg’s influence on Grandma’s begs asking. When I put the family tree  together as a teen the fact she went to Lindsborg was sufficient for me.

Unable to entirely imagine my grandma young, I couldn’t flesh out or give form to the things that would have shaped her, as I was being shaped, at her very similar age.

Grandma lived far from us as I grew up. Letters were how we stayed in touch. Asking questions and receiving answers by letter is a lengthy process. I don't recall any questions asked, then or ever, of her time in Lindsborg.

You can ask the pertinent questions and expect a reply. Details are trickier to ask for. This, in part, may have kept some of her history from being more completely gathered.

Folks have more diverse and interesting backgrounds than we guess. This includes our own forebears, impacted by their times, opportunities and interests.

“Is Lindsborg a free museum in a town or a town in a free museum?” This is a sentence from the Lindsborg brochure. 

For us Lindsborg was both. It's a refreshing stop because it takes itself seriously and because it doesn't. Like any good museum it knows its quality. It arranges for you to discover it, inviting you in.

Ro Giencke – October 5, 2014