Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 12th

October 12th…“WHAT WISDOM DID YOU GLEAN FROM AN EXTENDED FAMILY MEMBER?  LIKE AN UNCLE OR SOMEONE.”

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Elliott’s Uncle Barney Hollembaek heard the call to move north to Alaska.

Spectacular, undulating Northern Lights in the frigid, ebony night sky.  Snowmobiling at midnight with a full moon so bright that its reflection off the pristine white of the snow made the joy of the moment feel like daytime.  Moose coming out of the forest to run alongside the car…….these, and other scenarios, are just an inkling of the wonder of the life that was lived by my Uncle Barney Hollembaek.

#917 Barney Hollembaek family
Uncle Barney, who served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II,  is in red jumpsuit, third from right.

Even as children, our lives intersect with those whose persona and life-force manifest sets them in a class of a “folk hero” type of being.  That was exactly what I perceived in the life of my Uncle Byron J. “Barney” Hollembaek.  Not only was he a tall, strapping man in his physical stature, but he carried himself in a tall way, also, by how he walked and talked and did business, as well.  Without a doubt, he was a special man that I found to be very impressionable and fascinating in my young life.  My father’s lovely sister, Ileen, married Barney either during, or shortly after World War II and they saw life together in the wild 49th State of Alaska.

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Hometown for the Hollembaeks in 1972

The pleasant city of Palmer, Alaska was hometown to the Hollembaek family when I had the great adventure to travel there in 1972.  Barney owned and operated an agricultural supply store in town.  If my memory serves me right, it was called “Knik Farm Supply”.   That thriving farming community was nestled up against the Chugach Mountain Range.  That jagged mass of mountains had been launched straight into the sky by Almighty God Himself with majestic Pioneer Peak looking down from its lofty 6,000 foot perch.

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The Brown Swiss were like giants when compared to the Holsteins on Elliott’s farm.

Alaska was, and still is a growing State in our grand nation.  As agricultural needs in that area of Alaska arose, Uncle Barney would make trips down to the “Lower 48” (States) to purchase machinery, supplies and even animals that his clients needed for their Alaskan farms and businesses to flourish.  On one such buying trip, that brought our uncle through southern Minnesota, we found that Barney had purchased a number of cows called “Brown Swiss”.   Something in his schedule necessitated that the “Brown Swiss” had to be kept safe and secure for a short while until Barney could arrange for them to complete their journey to the “North Star State”.   Our beloved farmer friend, Harry Bauman, had some barn space and offered to bed those bovines for whatever time was needed before shipping could happen.   That evening, after our dairy herd had been milked, we followed Uncle Barney’s monstrously large cattle truck to Harry’s farm.  There I stood, bathed in a single yard light and in complete awe of the immense size of these gentle giants of the bovine family as they were unloaded from Barney’s big cattle truck and into Harry’s barn.   In later years, I researched and found out that this sturdy breed of animal was first bred in Switzerland and, therefore, could survive the numbing cold of Alaskan winters just as their ancestors did on the mountain slopes that were shadowed by the mighty Matterhorn Mountain.

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Uncle Barney talked to that car as if it were alive and wanted to obey to stay on the road.

In the Spring of 1972, I was a young buck of 18 years when my folk hero, Uncle Barney, flew into the nearby airport of Portland, Oregon.  We were thrilled to pick him up at the airport and give him a heapin’ helpin’ of our hospitality at our home across the State Line in Battle Ground, Washington.   Besides busying himself with business nearby, Barney had come to our home to retrieve and personally drive a 1969 Ford Mustang all the way back to Alaska.  We had been keeping the car safe for Barney’s son, Scott, who had dropped it off with us and flown to Hawaii for a construction job.  As visiting went back and forth that evening, Uncle Barney turned to me and said, “Hey Elliott!  Would you like to ride along with me back up to Palmer and keep me company on the journey?”   OHHHH BOYYY!!! Would I!!!  Hot dog!!

#04=Elliott(BGHS grad '72)
Elliott in 1972.

What a chance for adventure!  As a Senior in school that year, my high school was out on Spring Break anyway, so I had those days open for fun.  And, as far as my Box Boy employment at the local grocery store, my manager gave me his blessings to take the opportunity and gave me at least a week off, too!  I was STOKED!!!

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“Slippity Doo Dah!!” thought Elliott as they slid around.

The Old Testament Book of Proverbs 19:20 plays a role in each Christian’s life as we have the opportunity to learn wisdom from, not only our parents but, other elders who have experienced so much more in this journey of life than we have.  In this case, my dear uncle taught me so many things on that adventure-filled drive that we shared together.  Just one of those nuggets of knowledge had to do with winter season driving techniques.  Early in our journey, as we crossed the Canadian border from Washington State, Barney said that he’d rather drive a car when the temperature is 30 degrees BELOW zero rather than 30 degrees ABOVE zero.  The logic behind that preference was that super cold temperatures help to make the tires literally “stick” to the road for better traction.  One morning, as we exited our motel room, I was about to find out, first hand, how that sharing of his wisdom was going to be applied.   With breakfast in our tummies, we saw that the temperature was right at the freezing mark of 32 degrees…..a rather jeopardizing omen.  The morning sun was going to be adding its warmth to road conditions…..which was another key for trouble.   As far as our chariot, my Cousin, Scott Hollembaek, had fine-tuned the engine of that ’69 Mustang to the zenith of performance perfection.   So, needless to say, Uncle Barney and I were climbing into a blue powerhouse of pulsating pistons just yearning to have us “put the pedal to the metal!!”…..but, hopefully, not over a cliff.  Barney, like a kid in candy shop, punched that Mustang through her gears and away we went down the Alaska/Canadian (AlCan) Highway.

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YIKES!!!!!….Elliott thought to himself!

I’m so thankful to the Lord, that Uncle Barney was at the wheel that day and not this ignorant kid.  I wouldn’t be here writing this, if I had been driving.  As we rounded a corner of that snow-packed gravel road, we saw about a 1,000 foot drop-off into a canyon to our left.  The combination of higher temperatures and warming sunshine had “set a trap” for us.  In a blink, that Ford began to “fish tail” (which is the back end of the car slipping from side to side, like a fish’s tail does in swimming) on the partially melting, ice-packed road.  My eyes were as big as a dinner plate in fear, but my hero, Uncle Barney,  automatically put his decades of Alaska driving skills to use that day.  He knew exactly how to spin that steering wheel to bring the car back from the canyon’s precipice and keep the ‘Stang on the road.  When the “powerhouse of pistons” would buck the vehicle the other way, Barney, once again, reined it into control.  All the while this was going on, Barney was literally talking to the car, as if it were a wild woman personified……..“Come on Honey!!  You can do it!!  Stay on the straight, Dearie!!  Smooth out and fly right, Kid!”  As our flip-flops necessitated, my uncle was spinning that steering wheel one direction, and then the other to make that 3,000 pound metal marvel obey his commands and resume a straight line of driving along that ice-encrusted highway towards Alaska with a very grateful Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 11th

October 11th…“TELL US A “YARN” FROM YOUR BARN IN YOUR YOUNG MINNESOTA DAYS.  TRUE STORY, YA?”

#65=Elliott on Little Lady with Morton Holstad, 1963
Elliott is aboard “Little Lady”, in 1963 (9 years old).  The former owner of the farm, Morten Holstad stands behind the pony holding the bridle.

The 1892 birth certificate said, “Not a peep from this one!”.  Well, that’s what the record should have said, because Morten Ingvald Holstad was about the quietest baby to be born in Iowa State that year.  Even being as young as I was, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s,  I was able to discern that Morten was the most word-conservative man I’ve ever known.  Pleasant in his ways, and with nary a spoken decibel, Morten went about farming the rich soil his wife inherited, northwest of Kiester, Minnesota, until he heard of a young family looking for a chance to work a farm of their own.

#966 Genevieve and Wally Mutschler..our 3rd grandparents
Elliott’s extended grandparents…Genevieve and Wally Mutschler

Around the year 1945, Morten was now 53 years old and already past middle age.   I’m told, he, along with his wife (Tina), hoped to slow down in the rigors of farm life and “retire to town” in Kiester.   Our sweet parents, Russell and Clarice, had been working as “hired hands” for our “other grandparents”, Wally and Genevieve Mutschler.  The Mutschler’s beautiful farm lay just to the north of the Holstad acreage.  Unaware of the availability of Holstad farm, next door, our parents left the employ of the Mutschlers and moved just south of the Iowa State Line to an area known as Vinje, Iowa to rent and work a farm in that area.  Mom and Dad named that property, “Cocklebur Hill” for the extensive, prickly, football-shaped weed that grew in that area.  Back in the Kiester area, even though Morten’s wife, Tina, had inherited the farmstead from her pioneer family, they, as a couple, knew a time had come for a change in their life together.  It so happened, that while our father, Russell, had gone up to Kiester, Minnesota for some shopping,  he “ran into” Morten Holstad and had a nice visit.  Morten then informed Dad that he heard, from Wally Mutschler, that our parents were looking for a farm to rent and, if he had known earlier, our parents could’ve moved a full year earlier to HIS place without having to have made the move down into Iowa.  Dad and Mom gladly accepted Morten and Tina’s offer to rent their farm and another move was made “back home” to the dear acreage that became the Noorlun farm from 1945 until 1967 when Dad sold the farm to move to Washington State.

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Darrel Mutschler in basketball jersey #9.

From here, I relate a true story (shared to me) that transpired in our barn sometime before I came on the world’s scene in 1954.

#668.1 Aerial of Kiester farm 001
Between the Silo (left) and the Barn (right) was the little connecting Silage Room.

 

 

Some of you may have heard the term of a “mouse in the house”?  Well, get ready for a twist of that phrase.  In later years, our parents actually signed papers to begin purchasing the farm from the Holstads, but for now, even being semi-retired, we often had Morten and Tina (as landlords) stop by for visits and helping on our farm.  Our dear neighbors, the Mutschlers, were also frequent visitors to our farm.  It was on one of those occasions that one of their handsome young sons, Darrel, came along with his daddy, Wally.

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Energy to burn!

Like any lil’ whippersnapper, Darrel had the energy of a fireball and to occupy his time, this little guy had come across a mouse and was in hot pursuit of that tiny creature who was literally running for his minuscule life!  As a reference point for the location of this adventure; between the very tall, cement silo (which stored our chopped green corn called silage) and the main barn, there was a small, connecting building I called the silage room.   Our kind-hearted, quiet, friendly farmer landlord, Morten, was in the silage room doing some sort of work to help our father, Russell.   In the meantime, bearing down on his furry victim, Darrel had raced down the center manger aisle of the barn and burst into the silage room with “Mr. Quiet”.   Breathlessly, and as he darted his eyes back and forth, Darrel asked Morten, “Mr. Holstad, did you see my mouse?  I chased him in here!!!”.  

NFS 10.11b
“Is this the one you’re looking for?”

 

 

Without as much as a stir of emotion, dear old Morten stealthily reached inside his bib overalls, grabbed and then pulled out the mouse that had just ran under his pants and had used his leg to “get up in the world!!!”  With wiggling prize in hand, Morten asks little Darrel, “Is this the one you’re looking for?”.

NFS 10.11e
Little Darrel’s eyes about popped out of their sockets!

With saucer-wide eyes, the tiker was amazed how relaxed this friendly farmer was after having his “privates” invaded by a scratching, clawing and frantic furry friend seeking sanctuary.  Darrel accepted Morten’s flailing “gift” and went off amazed at what had just occurred.  There was just no way that a mini marauding mouse’s meanderings would ruffle the feathers of Morten Ingvald Holstad in the barn of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

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Both of these dear ones are gone now, but our family will always be grateful for their renting and then selling that lovely farm to our family to enjoy for decades to come.  I seem to recall that the land is now cared for by the descendants of our sweet Wally and Genevieve Mutschler.

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 10th

October 10th…“WHAT’S THE STRANGEST THING YOU EVER SAW IN THE SKY?”

POEM – “When The Sky Flew By”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Lenticular clouds form over Mount Rainier in Washington State.

The birds grew shy, As the sky flew by,

And careened up over the mount.

What happened next, Seemed almost hexed,

Forming scene of startling count.

For stacked on top, Of mountain’s dome,

Were pancakes made of clouds.

A sight that grabbed my attention fast,

Unlike its usual shrouds.

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Magic over the mountain.

A word from Latin, That means “lens”,

As I stood there upon the sod,

To me, They almost seemed to be,

The looking lens of God.

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Hawaiian Water Spout.

The next impressive skyward scene,

Happened off Hawaii’s Coast.

It captured awe and a bit of fear,

And what really mattered most,

Was that I saw, Not one but TWO,

Waterspouts twisting wild,

And if they’d come upon the shore,

They’ likely scoop up this child.

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Gentler times.

So even though, There oft can be,

Some gentle times in sky,

I’m always awake to catch the times,

For this awestruck Norski guy!

4.0.3

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 9th

October 9th…“WERE YOU A VERY GOOD FISHERMAN OVER THE YEARS?”

POEM – “The Fish Would Laugh!!!”   by N. Elliott Noorlun

NFS 10.9c
When Elliott fished, it was ISH!!

Now when it came to fishin’,

This boy was just a joke.

To water near, I’d drag my gear,

And give wet surface poke.

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“Here, fishy, fishy, fishy!”

I’d dig me some worms, With all the squirms,

And wiggles on display,

In hopes I’d tease, A fish, if you please,

To jump on my line that day.

NFS 10.9j
Ready!  Set!! NO!!!…fish that is!!

I’d buy a license, If that was required,

And checked my line and rod,

But when it came, To knowing my stuff,

I really was a clod!

NFS 10.9g
Who’s doin’ the fishin’ here?

Oh I thought it fun, To be the son,

Of a dad who went to the river.

Whether sun or rain, I’d not complain,

Even if I had to shiver.

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Old timers havin’ fun!!

To watch the old timers, There on the banks,

They truly had the knack.

They seemed to just snap their fingers,

And fish would jump in their sack.

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Fish giggles!

But not this guy, Cause whenever I,

Tried to give that fish a gaff,

They’d swim away, And I swore that day,

That I thought I heard them laugh!!!

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Snagged dead salmon by the TAIL!

The Grand Finale, Of my fishing life,

Was in 1974,

When I tried to catch a salmon,

Along Columbia’s shore.

I should’ve had an inkling,

As I arrived that day,

There t’weren’t a soul, Along the shore,

As I plaintively looked each way.

The weather was rainy, Wet and cold,

As I set my line and pole,

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So I took some shelter, In a shack,

Upon the sandy knoll.

The bell on the pole, Just didn’t ring,

From a fish that tried to bite,

So I began to reel, My line back in,

To see if all was right.

Just then, I felt a tug on line,

NFS 10.9d
What a joke!

“Do I really have one on?”,

I felt a glimmer, Of sportsman hope,

That my losing streak was gone.

Alas, I had a fish, alright,

And I began to wail,

I’d snagged a big DEAD salmon,

With a hook into his TAIL!!!

NFS 10.9m
Elliott, plus fishing pole……equals a comedy!

THAT ended my fishing days for good,

Except for family outings,

Cause when I gaff, The fish just laugh,

And cause me great big poutings!!!  Heheheh 😉NFS 10.9b

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 8th

October 8th…“WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHURCHES IN YOUR BOYHOOD HOMETOWN OF KIESTER, MINNESOTA?”

POEM – “She Called Her Sons And Daughters”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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The church bells of Kiester, Minnesota each sang a song of their own on Sunday mornings.

From three miles ‘cross the farmlands,

Her church bells could be heard,

Calling her sons and daughters,

To worship in His Word.

Kiester EUB and German Lutheran
Elliott’s childhood church (Grace Evangelical United Brethren) and, across the street, the town’s German Lutheran Church.

The glint of morning sunshine,

Reflected off stalks of corn,

As the call for saints to gather,

Was new and never worn.

Kiester Norwegian Lutheran Church
Although this church was before Elliott’s time, there was even a Norwegian Lutheran Church in town.

And for those who came from Norway,

T’was even a church for them,

The sermon was in Norwegian,

From that land of ancient stem.

#911 Russ w 3 brothers(Ray, Doren, Erwin)
Elliott’s father, Russell (white shirt with suspenders), with three of his brothers after a long day of church.

Our father attended a similar church,

In youthful days up north,

In days gone by, Young farmer guy,

Kinda questioned patience’s worth.

Kiester Our Savior's Lutheran
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Kiester, Minnesota.  The cousin of Elliott’s mother worshiped here with her family over the years.

Two sermons were preached from the pulpit,

To the pews where saints were sat,

First in English, Second in Norwegian,

No wonder Dad’s smile was flat.

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Hebrews 10:25

The key that touched my young boy’s life,

Was the family spirit owned,

As each family worshiped, According to,

The tenets that had been loaned,

From God above, Who knew His children,

Were different, And yet were one,

As each Sunday we were called to worship,

His one and only Son!!! 😉  ><>

#964 Grace EUB Stained Glass...Kiester, MN 001
Praise The Lord!! 😉  ><>

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 7th

October 7th…“IN YOUR YOUNG DAYS ON THE FARM, DID YOUR PARENTS GIVE YOU SPENDING MONEY (ALLOWANCE)?  HOW MUCH AND WHAT DID YOU BUY?”

#83=Elliott with coin bank from Aunt Doris Hawley
Elliott holds a Wild West coin bank he received from Aunt Doris & Lew Hawley in Colorado.

The manly fragrance of “Old Spice” cologne radiated from our father, Russell, as he strode from the parental bedroom just off of our kitchen.   He looked so dapper with his hair combed into that special wave that allowed some curl to whimsically come over his forehead.   It was Saturday night and he had just dressed after coming up from the shower in our basement.  The water pressure on that shower head was so strong, it could peel paint off of a barn.  But, since the barn was clear across the yard, it just peeled the soil and sweat from our handsome Norwegian daddy!!!

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Those shiny quarters meant a LOT to Elliott and his sister, Candi!

Rather than calling money given to us an “allowance”, I saw that the weekly twenty five cent piece that Candi and I received was more like a love gift from Mom and Dad.  Now we’d be able to finance some kid fun when we got to our hometown of Kiester and the “Lucky Bucks Drawing” that brought families to town each week from miles around.   Our small town really “came alive” on Saturday nights there in Kiester, Minnesota.  Not only was it the 9pm “Lucky Bucks Drawing”, but it was a great opportunity for families to get groceries at Field’s Market, gas up the car at Stu Soma’s Texaco Station or maybe buy that new pair of shoes in the basement of Kraus Department Store.

NFS 10.7c
Elliott was a devoted fan of all Richie Rich comics!!

You could almost set your compass by the direction I went when Dad parked our family car.   That destination was Paulson’s Drug on Main Street.

#1075 Paulson Drug 001
While Mr. Paulson helped people’s ailments, Elliott filled his own “prescription” …..of comic book fun, that is………..especially “Richie Rich”!

Besides using my weekly quarter to get some penny candy and a plastic toy soldier or two……I just HAD to preserve 10 or 12 cents so that I could get the latest copy of my hero’s comic book……..RICHIE RICH (“The Poor Little Rich Boy”).    It’s fascinating what “trips the trigger” of each child’s interest in fantasy, but for me, it was the on-going saga of this very nice little boy who had EVERYthing one could think of; including his own English butler named, Cadbury.   I was always taken by the way the artist (Ernie Colon) depicted Richie Rich as coming from a family of great character and morals who taught him to not be affected to the negative by all this money he had at his fingertips each day.   Even as a child, I was taken by the gentleness of this little boy who regularly reached out to others with his millions to help someone in need.

NFS 10.7l
Shoot his hat off with the coin and he throws his arms up in surrender!!! 😉

With any pennies I had left over from those wonderful Saturday evenings, I’d pocket them till we arrived home so I could play some more with the gift my Aunt Doris and Lew Hawley gave to me.  It was a metal “Wild West Coin Bank” that was a ton of fun to “save” with.   You’d load a coin horizontally on top of the “gun”.   Aim, and then, when trigger is pulled, the coin shoots off the hat of the bank robber as it flies inside the coin bank.   The bank robber’s hat and arms were one piece, so as the hat got shot off, the bad guy’s arms went up in the air as the crook surrendered.   I managed to save some coinage in that cute bank, but then, as well as now, my motto is this………..“For me, money really talks, it says GOODBYE!!!”   So says this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.  😉

NFS 10.7a...Ernie Colon 1931-2019
At the time of this writing, August 2019, our world lost the talented artist who penned “Richie Rich”.   His name was Ernie Colon  (1931-2019)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 6th

October 6th…“AS A KID, ON YOUR FARM IN MINNESOTA, DID YOU EVER PLAY IN THE FALL LEAVES THAT YOU JUST FINISHED RAKING INTO A PILE?  TELL US HOW YOU FELT AND ENJOYED THE EXPERIENCE.”

NFS 10.6h
Fall could also mean FUN for Elliott when he’d rake up those “Autumn Flowers” 😉

As ubiquitous as raking leaves has been to millions of kids over the ages, I can but nostalgically acquiesce to the same sensation of chilly, brisk winds stirring scents of Fall into my nostrils.

NFS 10.6c
Raking in a good time.

Crisp leaves below me crackled from the sweeping action of my rake and began to mountain themselves into pungent piles of pleasure.   Those same leaves that cooled me in yesterday’s Summer shade were now warming me in the crisp chill of a sapphire blue, autumnal sky as my young muscles leaned into every sweep of that rake handle; almost as if I were rowing a boat across an ocean of brown, organic waves.

NFS 10.6d
Pouncing on a pile of pleasure.

Then, from that mountainous marvel of mangled Maples, came a voice beckoning me to leave my senses and destroy, albeit happily, that which I just created by raking.  And so, with all propriety and logic set aside, I answered that sprite’s calling within me and happily launched myself airborne, landing deep inside that soft mountain of leaves.

NFS 10.6b
“Kerrrfluff” was the sound of Elliott landing 😉

A snap-crackling “KerrrFLUFF”!!! was the sound of my landing as I giddily disappeared inside that billowy mountain of crisp brown delight.  Now under a dome of magic, I entered a domain of inviting glee!  In kid heaven, I recall looking skyward and relishing the kaleidoscopic views of the brilliant Minnesota sky through the leaves above me.  What better use for these mangled, munched Maples, thought I, than to turn them into an instantaneous amusement ride…….for FREE, even!

NFS 10.6j
Ohhhh the Autumn joy, that awaited that boy, as his rake he’d employ!! 😉

Such were the simple, yet luxurious sensations of playing in the leaves of Fall for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 10.6g
Whether Fall, or any time of the year for that matter, this was Elliott’s mother’s favorite phrase!!!