Tidying up the language, the winter that wasn't, faceless, breastfeeding backlash, and last call for a polar bear.
Things come. Things go. That much we know about the rhythms of life. But the disappearance of the Swany White flour mill in Freeport, destroyed by fire this week, seems particularly poignant.
Owner Gary Thelan told MPR's Conrad Wilson that he's not going to rebuild.
"It's the continuation of the loss of small-town America," photographer Richard Olsenius told the St. Cloud Times. The Maryland man photographed the town a few years ago for a story on Garrison Keillor's territory. "The mill was like the church in the community. You know that guys, for three generations before you, hung out there and leaned on the same counter. When you lose something like the mill, there's a piece of us that is taken away."
Apparently, it was the last commercial flour mill in all of Minnesota.
"This was a place where you walked into a 12 x 20 room with a counter and some wall displays of all their flours and grains in bags," MPR reader Frank Steen of Saint Paul told us in an email today. "In a couple minutes you were greeted by a flour covered man who had milled the flour. He would total your bill in dollar or 50-cent increments on a 10-key calculator and offer to carry your order out to your car. The quality was great. We just made 9-grain with extra rye with sweetened cranberries for Christmas. I think we have two-loaves worth in the dough bucket. We'll have to blend in a tear or two."
What struck me about Wilson's photograph of the mill above, is it is from almost the same angle as the Minnesota Historical Society's 1977 photo.
It's the smokestack that was the icon of the icon and, fortunately for Freeport, it's still standing.
It would make a great historical marker.(3 Comments)
We interrupt this not-really-any-season in Minnesota for a flashback to when nature had a clue.
Last summer, Peter Bragiel and his two brothers, set out to canoe the entire Mississippi. Their trip was documented on canoekayak.com, but Bragiel has begun uploading produced videos of the trip.
A few days ago, he posted the second episode. It's the part where paddle into a Minnesota city and mispronounce its name.
Here's the first episode...
I'm pretty sure the greatest writer ever to pass through the hallowed halls of Minnesota Public Radio is Leif Enger, who actually toiled from his Aitkin-area home as part of MPR's Mainstreet project.
So it's no surprise at all that he has coined the perfect name for the winter we're having: "the khaki season."
It's also not surprising he found a way to enliven it, with this short video he posted today.
The last week of the year is a challenge for anyone in the news business; there's simply very little news going on.
So it's a good time to waste time -- cleaning out the e-mail, for example.
Today, I started chucking e-mails that I've saved in the "Stuff to Save" folder. There are e-mails from colleagues who are dead now, couples who are divorced, and the rare missive from someone who wrote something nice. There are passwords for sites that no longer exist. But some are e-mails I saved for reading later, and then never got around to.
There's this one, for example, from November 2003 from a high school student at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, who attended a symposium MPR had offered for young people who might be interested in a career in journalism. I was managing editor for MPR's online news division then (there were only two of us).
We do very few of these anymore, which is too bad because there's nothing more invigorating for journalists than young people who are interested in the field.
Anyway, she wrote a thank-you note to the person who was my boss back then:
I can honestly say I enjoyed all the speakers, but I was especially intrigued by Mr. Collins' speech about online journalism. I think it's very interesting that radio as a news medium, in particular, has embraced online journalism to the degree that it has. I have heard quite often that online journalism means the end of journalistic reporting as we now know it. Of course, this is true, but Mr. Collins emphasized particularly how that is not a bad thing. He implied that it perhaps makes the job a bit more difficult, but it also allows the public access to more information. That, of course, is what journalism is all about. His speech made me realize that journalism is at a very exciting point right now, evolving and becoming something better than it was before. He also tied his speech in well with Mr. Skolar's talk on Interactive Journalism. I also found this topic particularly interesting. I find that many people my age, myself sometimes included, tend to be quite apathetic about events that are happening around them. By allowing people to, in effect, become the news, it should increase interest. That's simply human nature. What an absolutely ingenious idea.
I wondered whatever happened to that kid? So I "Googled" her and found her... at the Washington Post. She made it to the big time.
Good for you, Hayley Tsukayama!
I wonder what else is in this email folder?
Longtime Minneapolis singer Christine Rosholt died unexpectedly this week, just a week before her 47th birthday.
Just this week, City Pages reported, she'd sent out a press release about upcoming shows. The cause of her death has not been released.
Just a few weeks ago, she was featured on Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Music with Minnesotans with her friend, Alison Young.
I remember my first day on air when I played a Mozart aria and received a breathless call from Christine even before the last note sounded wanting to know what the piece was because it was used in an incredibly touching moment in the movie "Shawshank Redemption."
Christine's eagerness and delight in the music was so contagious, I have found myself often thinking of her enthusiastic listening when I program my mornings on Classical MPR.
Here's the broadcast: