Norwegian Farmer’s Son…December 4th


#77=Kiester farm, February 1959, looking NW
Elliott’s farm became a veritable Winter wonderland of snow.  Cold, yes, but lots of fun, too.  Circa 1959.

Each year, after the harvest, our rich farm soil “bedded down” with Old Man Winter’s thick quilt of snow and enjoyed the opportunity for having a regenerative rest during the long, cold months ahead.  Even though the land rested, we kids enjoyed an opportunity as well, only it was the opportunity to be active with fun that came to us in any chilly way, shape or form.

NFS 12.4e
The old wooden snow skis, at first, had no seeable way to be tied to Elliott’s rubber boots.

One very frosty afternoon, being fully bundled up against the frigid weather, I was exploring inside the wrap-around machine shed there on our farm.  This machine shed wrapped around on the north and west sides of our granary building that housed the majority of food for our many farm animals.  As vapors of my hot breath launched against the cold air around me, I relished the chance to explore what treasures just might be lurking in Dad’s stash of old parts and whatnots.  Low and behold, as I scrummaged around inside there, I was thrilled to discover some very old wooden snow skis!!   Up to this point in my life, I had only seen snow skis being worn by world-class skiers on a popular television show called, “ABC’s Wide World Of Sports”.   The consummate mountain daredevils, on that TV screen, would come soaring down those steep slopes on their sleek skis at breakneck speeds.   Many of those fine downhill racers were from my ancestral country of Norway, too!  Heyyyy, maybe I could become just like my “cousins” in learning to ski someday.  Now came my moment, because here in my mitten-clad hands were a pair of these sliding devices for my very own!  Only one little problem I could see…..there were no clamping devices to get these magic marvels to connect to my rubber winter boots.

NFS 12.4i
Elliott’s connection idea….baling twine.

I had heard my dad say that, “Necessity is the mother of invention”.   This childhood dilemma before my eyes was a real “necessity” and I think I had the “invention” that would work, as far as connecting these ‘wood rockets’ to my boots.  The answer?….baling twine.  Dad had a bunch of twine leftover from last summer’s hay baling (twine was used to tie the hay into a rectangular cube), so I grabbed a supply from nearby our “New Holland” hay-baler machine and cut off a couple of long lengths.  Upon closer inspection of my skies, I then noticed that there actually were some flat, narrow openings in the skis under where my boots would stand, so, with exhilarated new hopes, I threaded the twine through those openings and proceeded to ‘lock-down’ these new boy’s toys to my rubber boots.  Heyyy, this seemed to work; for the most part, at least.  After shuffling, shushing and sliding around the flat snow surfaces of our farmyard, I just had to have a faster experience and more fun.  On television, I had seen the skiers “wax” their skis for more speed.  Since I had no such fancy ski wax, I figured I’d use one of my mother’s bars of soap, instead.   Rub, rub, rub went that bar of soap, up and down the bottoms of those ancient wooden skis.

NFS 12.4a
How do you turn these things???

Now that my skis were prepared for speed, I needed a “mountain”.  Well, the only place near us that had any kind of slope was the hillside to our east that belonged to our neighbor farmer, Charlie Heitzeg.  I hoped that Charlie wouldn’t mind if I crossed his property and played for a little while on his “hill”.  To preserve my newly applied “wax”, I tossed my skis over my shoulder and began the hike across the county gravel road, down the ditch and over the Heitzeg’s family fence-line.   An old adage says, “If it looks too good to be true, it usually isn’t”……true, that is.   I was gonna experience that axiom out for myself, shortly.  Our wintry season had layered Heitzeg’s field with a thick, “smooth-looking” layer of snow.  I trudged across the level field and then began my ascent to the top of “Heitzeg’s Hill”….be it minimally high as it may.  From this upper pinnacle, I could gaze out as far as my eyes could see across the lovely agrarian countryside.  From up there, the thick, white-phosphorous snow contrasted beautifully against our sapphire-blue Minnesota sky.

NFS 12.4c
Here goes!!!!!!!!!

As I crested the top of that hill, I was pumped with delusional and phantasmagorical apparitions that I was about to become the immediate world champion downhill skier.  Yah, right!!! 😉

Down came those ancient slivers of wood from my shoulders and I climbed aboard.  Oooooo, I can feel that the earlier soap rub was making these hopeful fliers even slipperier.  Out came the baling twine from my pockets as I yanked off my mittens to be able to use my bare hands to tie my rubber boots as securely as possible to these ‘wood rockets’.  Okeedokee, they’re both tied on to my rubber boot appendages..  As you recall, I had found just the skis, but NOT ski poles.  It was up to my young balance to keep me in the upright position.

NFS 12.4g
Time for a face-plant in the snow.

“All right, ladies and gentlemen,” says the imaginary sportscaster in my egocentric brain.  “Noodles Norski is at the top of his mountain, and has aimed his skis straight down the slope!”  “He pushes off and gravity is now under control!”  The imaginary announcer steps up the adrenaline to the audience….. “Yes, yes, he’s going faster and faster, sports fans!!”  “But, what’s this?  A plowed field is hidden in the snow at the bottom of the hill?  WATCH OUT!!!”  CRASH!!!!  I face-planted right into a mass of frozen, rock-hard, plowed dirt at the base of the hill!!!  It had been hidden under the seemingly “smooth blanket” of snow.   Oh well…..besides, I would’ve had no way of knowing how to stop those greasy sticks of wood anyways.  Wow!  what an abrupt ending to the career of skiing for “Noodles Norski”!!!

But, heyyyy, it was STILL a lot of fun for this snow crash victim of a Norwegian Farmer’s Son!! 😉

NFS 12.4j


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