Coffee Klatsch, Oh Ja, Wobegon Trail

Riding the Rails

I hoped to be in MN not long after this year’s Caramel Roll Ride along the Lake Wobegon Trail.

There would be the long flight to Chicago, then the Amtrak to St Cloud. My sister would collect me at the station in the middle of the night, and we’d careen through the dark streets again, laughing at the truth of her nickname (Lane Drifter).

But my marriage ended, and I ordered a t-shirt to commemorate the Ride instead.

As Snoopy starts many of his tales, “it was a dark and stormy night …”

It’s been a year like that for me.

Stories for LenaMina have piled up, and I’m looking forward to writing them.

Stories about chickens and their ways, parts 1 and 2.

Recipes from the Koltes archives, baked on Saturdays to fill the larder and all those Koltes stomachs in the days ahead.

Tips from my crafty grandmothers and aunts about rickrack and other sewing notions, choosing a good quality fabric, and checking for matching seams when shopping for dresses.

Continuation of Sister P’s story, after her late niece’s husband sent photos and memories, adding to what I know of my old mentor.

Sharing my godmother Aunt Elaine’s reminisces about contracting polio in her youth – an experience that must have terrified my grandparents, who’d already lost their two oldest children to pandemics.

The history of Halloween candy, and of Christmas ribbon candy, my mother’s favorite. Plus her secret recipe for brandy slush.

All you need to know about leeches, ticks, and the best places to find worms as bait to fish for sunnies and crappies.

Grandma Mina’s obsession with 1960s wrestler Verne Gagne, and my own with Cold Spring Renaissance Man Glanville Smith.

And chilly autumn walks with cousin Lois through the small cemeteries of central Minnesota, with gravestone maintenance tips from Michelich Granite.

Oh ja.

Grandma Mina’s crush, Minnesota wrestling legend Verne Gagne.

But for now I am wintering, as described in Katherine May’s reflective book Wintering: How I Learned To Flourish When Life Became Frozen.

It isn’t often that I feel the need to winter over, to close in on myself without resisting what I don’t want or like.

Even though doing this can be futile, my Minnesotan pioneer spirit likes me to Gagne forward – not just accept that Minnesota feeling of being lost in a blizzard, letting the ice break under my feet.

But for now my instinct says rest.


Press forward, not back.

Even though there are many more things to share and so many more tales to tell here at

Once I’ve finished wintering.

Wintering, 2023.

Image copyright: those famous Minnesotans Snoopy and Charles Schulz.

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