Thoughts by Helen D. Gunderson

Growing Food and the Meaning of Land

After producing a video, Growing a Rural Homeplace on Urban Land, for the City of Ames eco chat about gardening on March 2, 2021, I thought I should prepare a document with supplemental information to help others interested in growing food.

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Gratitude Day 2020

As a single person, who is keeping a great deal of social distance as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps surging, my Thanksgiving connections and food were of as fine a quality as anyone in more conventional family circumstances or a less troublesome era could have experienced.

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The Hawk and My Chickens

My five laying hens were making a huge ruckus. I thought maybe they were eager to get away to areas with more green vegetation. But when I threw some collard greens to the layers, they paid no attention. They continued to press against the fence.

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Helen at Urban Farm

Pickled Beets and Hymns in the Kitchen

There are beets in the refrigerator that I have just cooked and peeled. I wash the stainless steel stock pot that I used to cook the beets. I glance out the window. There is an evening glow following a day of gray skies, thunder, lightening, and a soaker rain.

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fresh vegetables

Cooking with Collards

July was the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, and September holds the anniversaries of my parents’ birthdays. I have started tidying the kitchen. I am able to settle in and be more at home with myself. Washing dishes helps. Chopping and sautéing vegetables helps. I feel at peace.

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Helen's pickle jars

Bread and Butter Pickles

It is neat to take jars of bread and butter pickles to church meals. They seem a symbol of something about the past, an inner yearning, something virtuous and related to hospitality. And it’s a locavore thing. The cucumbers and onions are from my garden. They traveled zero miles from farm to the kitchen counter. No fossil fuels burned. No packaging. No time to lose their freshness.

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A Brief History of RHS Girls Basketball

In the middle of the Twentieth Century, one might never have known that Rolfe High School once sported a girls basketball team. But a photo that I discovered in the 1970s provides evidence that the school did sponsor a team early in the century.

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girls basketball team 1963

The Basketball Petition

The girl likes sports, but her school has no sports programs for girls. In seventh grade in 1957, she heads a petition drive, requesting the school board to start girls basketball.

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Valentine’s Day

The imminent arrival of Valentine’s Day gets some people thinking of the color red, yummy-but-not-so-healthy desserts, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, candlelight dinners, cupids on Hallmark cards, and romance between two people of the opposite sex.

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Miss Edna M. Marcum

Miss Marcum, herself a Rolfe native, was a RHS educator from 1913 until 1966. Now that I am signing up for Medicare, I thought I was nearing the “old age” that she seemed to be when she served as principal when I was a RHS senior, but she was 77 years old in 1963.

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Gardening Circles

The White House garden is a reminder of the Victory Gardens during World War Two. In this era, victory can mean finding successful strategies to deal with the dire social, economic, and environmental challenges that confront the nation and world.

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Ragbrai riders

RAGBRAI 2007 Parades through Rolfe

The Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride across Iowa went through Rolfe in 2007. I regret not videotaping more variety or heading east where a farm couple, Mike and Joni Behrendsen, served root beer floats.

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The Sernett Family and Rural Heritage

I had gone to Pocahontas County to attend the funeral of Bob Sernett. Bob and his wife Monica Sernett had lived across the road from my grandparents. They were of Bohemian descent and seemed to have more fun than we Gundersons of Norwegian heritage had.

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Demolition of the Rolfe School Building

The space where the old, three-story part of the school stood is now simply air. Seeing the site at this stage has a much heavier and more mystical impact on me than observing the demolition several weeks ago when the building was knocked down.

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Rolfe High School Logo

High School Reunions

I went to my first RHS all-class reunion in 1955 when I was 10. Mother and older sister were traveling. Dad was on the reunion committee. He took my brother and me to the banquet where former Superintendent M.D. Anderson was the honored guest.

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