June 19th………..“DID YOU HAVE LOTS OF BIG SHADE TREES AROUND YOUR HOUSE ON YOUR FARM IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA? ARE THEY STILL THERE”??
“Last one outside to play is a rotten egg”!!!! teased big brother Lowell to tiny sister Rosie as he bolted from the breakfast table. Of course, the wink in his little boy eye gave away the great love he had for his sibling who was three years his junior.
As an itty bitty Norwegian toddler girl, Rosemary Arlone Noorlun couldn’t wait to scarf down the last of Mom’s yummy bacon and eggs as she pushed off from the table and ran over to our mother, Clarice. Fluffing happily into Mom’s billowing skirt, Rosie, teeny as she was, gave Mom’s thigh a big love squeeze as she said, “Thanks, Mommy, for breakfast”!!! and varoom!, her toddler legs had her quickly on the heels of her big brudder.
Like two peas in a pod, Lowell was waiting for his sister at the back porch cement landing on that fine, summer Minnesota day. Together now, they took off on a run, making a banking turn to the left as they flew around the corner of the house; almost like two little Norwegian airplanes flying to that day’s adventure. With unbounded energy of youth, these two mini-Norwegians ran out to the front “forest” that existed along the expansive space between the graveled road and our farm home. Close to 100 years earlier, the pioneers that had homesteaded this land of ours were obviously thinking of the future and how grand it would be to have a major stand of deciduous trees (and some evergreens) to be their bulwark against winter’s assailing blizzard forces and for cooling against summer’s high heat and humidity. Now, many decades later, Lowell and Rosemary were basking in the beauty of this heavenly canopy of green coolness and fun.
The sky, above our green crown of leaves, was the limit when it came to fun times. “Hide & Seek” and numerous other peekaboo games were relished by these two darlings as they darted from tree to tree under the dappled chill of these graceful green giants that populated our front farm yard.
Our parents, Russell and Clarice, had moved onto this farm in the Spring of 1946, just months before Rosemary entered the world. They had heard that the current owners, Morton and Tina Holstad, were wanting to retire to nearby Kiester village and finish out their years in comfort there, away from the hard manual labor and daily rigors of farm life. Tina’s parents had owned this farm in her youth, but now, it was the Noorlun family who would rent (and eventually purchase) this lovely acreage.
For whatever their reasoning, the Holstads were concerned that those towering trees in our front yard could possibly someday be blown against the house in a winter storm or summer tornado. So, their eventual decision was communicated to our father, their tenant, to cut down all the trees. The year was around 1948.
It’s a good thing that, at roughly 30 years of age, Daddy was still a strappin’ young buck of a man because this task ahead of him would test his mettle against these wooden wonders that had to come down.
Pretty soon, the sound of axes could be heard resonating from our front yard forest. Our father, Russell, and his helpers became what is known in logging terms as “sawyers”. Since gas-powered chainsaws were still years away from common use, in the late 1940’s, Russell used one or more devices called, a “Two-Man Crosscut Saw”. They were also colloquially known as, “Misery Whips” for the hard work it took for two men to push and pull them across the breadth of a tree trunk till it finally fell to the ground.
Day by day, and week by week, that lovely forest of deciduous beauty eventually became firewood. Then, it was the amazingly tough task of digging around the many leftover stumps and, with a chain and our F-20 Farmall tractor, pulling out those stubborn tree stumps that defined the term, “recalcitrant” to the max!!!
The residual remnants of our former forest became ubiquitous to the point that even our family gatherings would take place near the last two shade trees for picnics while the log piles of sister trees resided nearby. On a positive note, those log piles did make for a new playground, of sorts, for Lowell, Rosie and other cousins to enjoy!!! 😉
Even though our wooden gentle giants were now gone, our family still could be grateful for the fuel that they provided for our home in the next number of years to come.
Dad would often split a load of wood, from those former trees, and back up a wagon full to the south side of our farm home. He’d then open our basement window to toss wood down through the window to the basement below where our hired-hand, John Madsen or our family friend, Harry Bauman, would stack the wood to be used in our kitchen stove which burned wood, coal or corncobs on one side and propane gas on the other side.
Nothing went to waste on the farm of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉