Saturday, May 3, 2008

Let them sleep

The snow is gone, finally. Trees are budding out, birds are busy nesting, and dandelions are pushing through the ground in my garden.

We have 14 acres, 8 of which are in alfalfa. In this picture my two youngest are running through the alfalfa stubble, stretching their winter legs. Beyond our alfalfa is another field, then another. The trees in the distance mark several abandoned farmsteads. Then farther, the valley of the source of the Minnesota River, Big Stone Lake.

The first time I saw Big Stone Lake, it reminded me a lot of the Scottish Lochs. Long (26 miles long) and narrow (1 mile at its widest). Scottish Lochs, however, can reach several hundred feet deep. Big Stone Lake reaches about 16 feet at its deepest.

The lake and this county are named for the many granite boulders found in the soil. These boulders came with the glaciers, left behind when the ice melted and drained down River Warren. They've rested here for centuries upon centuries, nestled into the soil, sleeping quiet and heavy.

These boulders were the bane of the early pioneer, chipping plowblades and breaking backs. Nowadays it's relatively easy for a farmer to move these sleeping giants. Big City landscapers will pay farmers to haul them away, to be placed as large hulking decor in a suburban front yard. Uprooted, displaced, their sleep disrupted.

It's hard to find a field of original stone out here now. We've lost much of what has made us special.

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