Monday, February 27, 2017


  They say all the trouble in the world is caused by man's inability to sit quietly in his room. That's true, but even the greatest mystic has to stand up and stretch now and then. On Saturday Teresa went to the annual Fiber Fest in Bemidji with her good friend Sue. I hadn't been on a jaunt with Steve for awhile, so I called him from my room.  He was sitting quietly in his room staying out of trouble but said he was up for a ride in the country.  I asked him to pick the destination. He thought it over and named Flom. He said he would call his friend Lyle and get us an invitation for lunch. Now Flom truly is in the middle, not of nowhere, but of little traveled country. The citizens of Flom love the place but there are not enough of them to make an impact on the world. At least when I try to tell people where we live I can say we're right below that little smokestack on the top of America. If they don't get it, I draw a  map in the dust and that always jogs their memory.  But Flom is hard to visualize, located 36 miles northeast of Fargo and just west of the White Earth Reservation. Most little towns hug the highway but Flom is set back a mile from the east-west Highway 113.
  Flom is 127 miles mostly south and some west of Palmville so we would not be able to explore much if we were going to make our noonish arrival. The big atlas said we'd have to do some backtracking to reach Flom but the more finely grained gazeteer showed the gravel roads we could zig and zag on to save miles. This part of the state is mostly low hills with winding streams cutting deeply through the hills. We would drop into these heavily wooded ravines noting the old farm buildings sinking back into the earth. It takes many fewer farmers to work the land now than it did even fifty years ago. The gazeteer does not conform exactly to reality and we tend to get a little lost when taking a short cut.
  Lyle's wife Margit was stirring a pot of what I assumed was soup when we arrived. Lyle is a jolly fellow and a good story teller and gave us coffee as Margit continued stirring. The soup turned out to be rømmegrøt, a Norwegian milk and flour pudding. You pour sugar and cinnamon and butter on it and eat it before your meal. It's delicious and after a couple of bowls you don't  really need a lunch, but I ate a couple of sandwiches to be polite. Lyle and Margit believe that if you put pictures in an album, you'll never look at them, so they've dedicated themselves to covering every inch of their walls with things to look at. They were stymied at first by the sloping walls upstairs, but the discovery of a stickum product allowed them to empty a couple of more albums. After a tour of their house you realize that even the most empty seeming country has a deep history.
  We left Flom around two p.m. knowing we'd have time to wander the countryside. You always see interesting things even in tourist-free zones. Just a few miles down the road from Flom we spotted an unmistakable silhouette. Yes, yes, it was Bigfoot!  What was Bigfoot doing here in farm country? He usually lurks among the lakes and forests to the east. Maybe he just felt the need to get out and about, like Steve and me. He froze as we approached. He didn't dare cross the road, and now people were coming out of the house behind him. I was able to get a great pic with my phone but felt bad invading his privacy. As we drove away, the people in the house were taking pot shots at him, but it would take a lot more than a gun to kill Bigfoot.


Joe said...

This may be the best example of ex nihilo travel writing that I've ever read. Traveling from one nowhere to another, looking for diligently for nothing, but alas, failing to find it.

One is left to imagine the airy nothingness conversations as the protagonists wandered toward Flom, perhaps discussing new roundabout records, hopefully avoiding any flom-talk (, dreaming of to-go Rømmegrøt (, and otherwise blanketed by roadway silence.

Chairman Joe said...

The conversation is in New Testament Raven-Speak.