Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memories of Memorial Day


                Once more Memorial Day is here, and for many this signifies the first day of summer.  But Memorial Day has a much deeper meaning.

                When I was a kid, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. It was held on May 30 and if we arrived in Wild Rose on the day or so preceding Decoration Day, American Legion folks sold us red paper poppies to commemorate the day. We also made sure to put flowers on the grandparents graves on both sides of the family—Grandpa and Grandma Witt, and Grandpa and Grandma Apps.

                Decoration Day was first celebrated in 1868, as a way to recognize those soldiers who died in the Civil War.  General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, with General Order No. 11, proclaimed, “The 30th of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers and otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

                In wasn’t until after World War II that people began calling Decoration Day, Memorial Day, and included remembering all of those who served in battle, no matter which war.  In 1971, when  Congress passed the “National Holiday Act,” Memorial Day became an official federal  holiday, to be observed each year on the last Monday in May.

Red poppies became associated with Decoration Day in 1915, inspired by a poem written by Moina Michael.
In Flanders Fields
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Take a minute to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:
 My one-day writing course on “Writing From Your Life,” is scheduled for Saturday, October 17 at the Clearing in Door County.  Go to http://theclearing.org/current/classes_workshop_description.php?id=26  for detailed information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

May 27, 7:00 p.m., Middleton Public Library, Whispers and Shadows

June 11, 5:30 p.m. Fund Raising Event, Stoughton Area Resource Team (START), Stoughton Hospital, Limping Through Life.

June 16, 6:30 p.m. Dinner and Lecture, Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, Whispers and Shadows. Call 608-264-6555 for reservations.

June 18, 6:30, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Whispers and Shadows

June 23, Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture, Dinner Meeting. Madison, Time and place to be announced. Keynote.

July 16, 6:30. Heritage Village at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay, Remembering Farm Life from an Earlier Day

September 3, Noon.  Old World Wisconsin, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History (New book)

September 3, 7 p.m. Books and Company bookstore,  Oconomowoc,  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 12, West Madison Agriculture Research Station, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.  Time to be announced.

September 17, 11:-a.m.  St. Lukes Church, Middleton, WI   Stories From the Land

September 19 , Stonefield Village, Cassville.  Whispers and Shadows.

September 23, Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 26, 10:30 -2:00, Dregni’s, Westby, Book signing.

October 7, 6:30 p.m. Reedsburg Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 9-10, Heartland Forum, Chicago.

October 15, Prairie du Sac Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 17, 9-4 Teaching writing workshop at The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

October 17, 4:30-6:00 p.m. The Clearing.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

October 29, Brown County Library.  Premier of TV Documentary,” The Land With Jerry Apps. “ Book signing, Whispers and Shadows.

November 5, 7:00 p.m. Baraboo Library, Whispers and Shadows.

November 7, Edgerton Book Festival, The Land (TV documentary) and Whispers and Shadows

November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, The Land (TV documentary)  plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows.

November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.


November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium.  Whispers and Shadows book signing. (Time to be announced)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Importance of Place


The Wisconsin Historical Society’s statewide tour traveled to Eau Claire this past week.  I was privileged to be part of a “Wisconsin Writer’s Forum” along with Michael Perry and John  Hildebrand.   Wisconsin Public Radio’s Alan Ross, host of Spectrum West, served as moderator. 

 About 150 people came from all around, including crossing the border from Minnesota to hear what my fellow writers and I had to say, and perhaps pick up a tip or two on how to write. We gathered at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, and then later signed books at the Eau Claire’s, L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

Our topic was “Sense of Place,” or in other words, why do our roots matter, and how does “place” make a difference in our lives?  What I tell my writing students includes these words: “We are our histories,” meaning where and when we grew up has a tremendous influence on who we are today.

I also say, “If we don’t know where we’ve been, we have trouble figuring out where we are going.”  The “place” where we grew up, for some of us several places, is a foundation for the lives we lead today.  It grounds us, it informs us, it provides solace when the road ahead is rocky and filled with pot holes.

THE OLD TIMER ASKS: How has “place” influenced who you are today?

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

 My one-day writing course on “Writing From Your Life,” is scheduled for Saturday, October 17 at the Clearing in Door County.  Go to http://theclearing.org/current/classes_workshop_description.php?id=26  for detailed information.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

May 20, 6:30 p.m., Barnes and Noble Madison. Whispers and Shadows Launch

May 21, 11:30 a.m. Beloit Retired Teachers, Stories from the Land

May 27, 7:00 p.m., Middleton Public Library, Whispers and Shadows

June 11, 5:30 p.m. Fund Raising Event, Stoughton Area Resource Team (START), Stoughton Hospital, Limping Through Life.

June 16, 6:30 p.m. Dinner and Lecture, Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, Whispers and Shadows. Call 608-264-6555 for reservations.

June 18, 6:30, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Whispers and Shadows

June 23, Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture and their staffs, Dinner Meeting. Madison, Time and place to be announced. Keynote.

July 16, 6:30. Heritage Village at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay, Remembering Farm Life from an Earlier Day

September 3, Noon.  Old World Wisconsin, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History (New book)

September 3, 7 p.m. Books and Company bookstore,  Oconomowoc,  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 12, West Madison Agriculture Research Station, Wisconsin 
Agriculture: A History.  Time to be announced.

September 19 , Stonefield Village, Cassville.  Whispers and Shadows.

September 26, 10:30 -2:00, Dregni’s, Westby, Book signing.

October 7, 6:30 p.m. Reedsburg Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 9-10, Heartland Forum, Chicago.

October 15, Prairie du Sac Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 17, 9-4 Teaching writing workshop at The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

October 17, 4:30-6:00 p.m. The Clearing.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

October 29, Brown County Library.  Premier of TV Documentary, The Land With Jerry Apps.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows.

November 5, 7:00 p.m. Baraboo Library, Whispers and Shadows.

November 7, Edgerton Book Festival, The Land and Whispers and Shadows

November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, The Land  plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows.

November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium.  Whispers and Shadows book signing. (Time to be announced)



Saturday, May 09, 2015

Two Gardens


You’ve read about my adventures with gardening at my farm, Roshara, in mid-Wisconsin.  Those of you who have seen my PBS documentaries, “Old Farm” and “Farm Winter” have seen the Roshara garden.  My family and I have tended that garden since about 1967, which translates into a long time. That sandy patch of ground continues to support three families so it’s a serious endeavor.
            I’ve written little about my town garden.  My son-in-law, Paul, built a raised garden for me a couple years ago.  Made of wood, it is three and half feet wide by eight feet long.  A tiny, tiny, garden compared to the one at Roshara.  One reason you’ve heard little about this little garden is because it has mostly failed.  I wanted at least half of it be a strawberry bed, but alas, save for a couple little struggling survivors, two winters have wiped out the strawberries.  So this year, the town garden will be entirely vegetables.
            So far, in this tiny little space, 28 square feet give or take, I have planted:
            --five hills of early potatoes (they are just coming up)
            --three hills of late potatoes
            --a small patch of leaf lettuce (also up)
            --a short row of snap beans
            --a short row of red beets
            --Nine tomato plants (early variety, cherry-type, and a seedless variety)
            --Three hills of cucumbers (a new kind that is more bush than vine—we’ll see)
            --Six broccoli plants
            I have not taken my dad’s advice.  He has been gone for more than twenty years but it lingers in my head, “Spread things out.  Don’t plant vegetables too close together.” I’ve surely crowded things in my town garden.
            We’ve yet to plant about half of the Roshara garden—trying to avoid those pesky mid-and late May morning frosts.  I’ll keep you apprised of both gardens this year—we’ll see what happens.
THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  If you can grow a garden in the country, you ought to be able to do it in town.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Tuesday, May 12, 10:00 a.m. Writers Forum, with Michael Perry and John Hildebrand. Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, 316 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire, WI  (Part of Wisconsin Historical Society History Tour).

Thursday, May 14, Appleton Area Sierra Club, FREEA building, 1000 Ballard
Rd., Appleton. 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20, 6:30 p.m.  Barnes & Noble, Madison West. Whispers and Shadows, (Madison Area Launch).

Thursday, May 21, Noon. Beloit Retired Teachers, Boundaries Restaurant.  Wit and Wisdom.

Wednesday, May 27, 7:00 p.m.  Middleton Public Library, Whispers and Shadows.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835









Sunday, May 03, 2015

Opening Day


         Saturday was the opening day of the 2015 fishing season.  Beyond Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the Fourth of July, no dates are more important for most Wisconsinites than the opening day of deer season in November and the opening day of fishing season in early May.  No weddings, no funerals, no birthday parties or anniversaries are celebrated on these days because no one would come.
           In 1961, I made a major exception to my longstanding rule of not allowing anything to interfere with these dates.  Ruth and I had set our wedding date for a Saturday in late May of that year.   At the time, Ruth worked for the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Wautoma and I worked for the same employer, but in
Green Bay.  We had agreed to be married in Wautoma.
            The preacher who would marry us said that we must have marriage counseling prior to the event.  He picked the first Saturday in May and said we should meet at his parsonage near the Church.  I looked at the calendar and then knew why I had the day open—it was opening day of fishing season.  I knew Ruth would not have appreciated me backing away from this all important marriage counseling so I said nothing.
            I drove down from Green Bay on that beautiful Saturday morning, with thoughts of un-caught trout on my mind.  I picked up Ruth and we drove to the parsonage.  The pastor’s wife answered the door.  We explained why we were there.
            “I’m so sorry,” the pastor’s wife said.  “He must have forgotten. He’s gone fishing.  He never misses opening day.”

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: It’s important to keep one’s priorities in order.

 UPCOMING EVENTS:

Tuesday, May 5, 10:30. Chilton Library, Chilton, WI Whispers and Shadows.

Tuesday, May 12, 10:00 a.m. Writers Forum, with Michael Perry and John Hildebrand. Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, 316 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire, WIO  (Part of Wisconsin Historical Society History Tour).

Thursday, May 14, Appleton Area Sierra Club, 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20, 6:30 p.m.  Barnes & Noble, Madison West. Whispers and Shadows, (Madison Area Launch).

Thursday, May 21, Noon. Beloit Retired Teachers, Boundaries Restaurant.  Wit and Wisdom.


Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835









Monday, April 27, 2015

Garden Planting


Garden planting day at Roshara.  Clear sky.  No wind.  Bright sunshine.  Sandhill cranes calling.  Bluebirds flying in and out of nearby bluebird house.

Early crops in.  Eight rows of Kennebec potatoes, one row of Red Norland potatoes.  Rows are thirty-five feet long.  Any kind of year, lots of potatoes.  Steve and Natasha did the heavy work.  They also said they are still eating potatoes from last fall.  Good keepers those Kennebecs.

Two thirty-five feet long rows of yellow onions.  Everyone likes onions. 

Shorter rows of lettuce, radishes and carrots.  A long row of peas—can’t beat the taste of home-grown peas.  The best.  A short row of collards.  Collards did well last year—and though they take a little patience to prepare, collards greens are a wonderful vegetable.  Full of healthy stuff as well.

With early planting finished, we put up the fence to keep away the turkeys and deer—our biggest problems, plus the raccoons and ground hogs—less a problem.  We’ve given up on the rabbits, hoping they have enough to eat in the nearby fields, but if worse comes to worse, we use a little “Liquid Fence,” a foul smelling concoction that keeps the bunnies away from the green beans—not planted yet, and the lettuce.

Tomato plants remain indoors, in a south-facing window.  About 75 plants (seven different varieties).  They are doing well and will go in the ground in late May, the same time we plant the vine crops, sweet corn, green beans and other such vegetables that like warmer temps.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: We know it’s spring when the potatoes are planted.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Tuesday, April 28, 11:00 a.m. Wisconsin Public Radio, Larry Meiller Show.

Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 p.m. Black River Falls Library, Sky Line Golf Course. Stories from the land

Sunday, May 3, 1:00 p.m. Readers’ Realm Bookstore, 147 E. Montello Street, Montello, WI Whispers and Shadows.

Tuesday, May 5, 10:30. Chilton Library, Chilton, WI Whispers and Shadows.

Tuesday, May 12, 10:00 a.m. Writers Forum, with Michael Perry and John Hildebrand. Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, 316 Eau Claire St., Eau Claire, WIO  (Part of Wisconsin Historical Society History Tour).
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fundraiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835







Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tree Planting at Roshara



Yesterday we planted 150 trees at Roshara, 50 jack pine, 50 red pine and 50 Norway spruce.  This year’s planting crew consisted of son Steve and daughter-in-law Natasha, daughter Sue and son-in-law Paul plus the Old Timer who mostly organized things, gave an unneeded lesson in tree planning techniques, and thought about tree planting in years past.

We planted the first trees at Roshara in 1966, two-thousand red pine that are now fifty feet tall.  That year the kids helped as well, but not much for they were four, three and two.  In 1967, we planted another two-thousand red pines, finishing four rows all the way around the farm. 

Every year since, for some 49 years, we have planted trees at Roshara, sometimes as few as 10 trees.  Five years ago we planted 7,500, which was the most in any one year.  These days we are mostly planting where trees planted earlier years died.

 Tree planting has become a spring ritual for the family.  Some years the April day when we plant is sunny and pleasant, some years it is snowing and cold.  But no matter, when the trees are ready to plant, we plant them.  And as we do, the crew shares stories of earlier years.   We marvel at how well these trees have changed the landscape of Roshara—and made the place just a bit more enjoyable.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: One is never too old to plant a tree.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Monday, April 20, Noon. Fox Valley Book Festival, UW-Fox Valley. Whispers and Shadows

Wednesday, April 22, 6:30 Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin Launch of Whispers and Shadows. Fundraiser for the library.

Friday, April 24, 8:00 p.m. Ice Age Trail Org. Wis. Dells, Winter Green Resort.  Old Farm

Tuesday, April 28, 11:00 a.m. Wisconsin Public Radio, Larry Meiller Show. Whispers and Shadows

Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 p.m. Black River Falls Library, Sky Line Golf Course. Stories from the land

Sunday, May 3, 1:00 p.m. Readers’ Realm Bookstore,  147 E. Montello Street, Montello, WI Whispers and Shadows.

Tuesday, May 5, 10:30. Chilton Library, Chilton, WI Whispers and Shadows.
Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.

Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County and his new nonfiction book, Whispers and Shadows: A Naturalists Memoir.

Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835







Sunday, April 12, 2015

Bluebird Houses


We put up five new blue birdhouses on Saturday, replacing those that had fallen apart, lost their roofs or otherwise had succumbed to old age.  We were late.  The houses should have gone up a couple weeks ago—but time and the weather didn’t allow it.

We knew we were late because a pair of bluebirds had already arrived and were scouting out the house but a few yards from the cabin’s kitchen window—put there so Ruth could enjoy their comings and goings.

About twenty bluebird houses stretch out in a long row on the south side of Roshara’s prairie; we put up the first ones about 40 years ago. Anyone who puts up bluebird houses knows that tree swallows like to nest in these houses, too.  I’d guess that our row of bird houses has as many swallows as bluebirds. But that’s okay. We also like the tree swallows.

Not more than five minutes after the first house went up—son-in-law, Paul did the heavy work—a pair of tree swallows inspected it.  By the time Paul had put up the last house, six or more pairs of tree swallows were swooping overhead and checking out the new digs.

Daughter, Sue said, “Look we’ve created a new ‘bird-suburbia on our prairie.’”

Quite something to watch.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Put up some bluebird houses.  You’ll become an instant fan of a bunch of birds.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Tuesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m.  Friends of Eau Claire Library. Eau Claire, WI. Stories from the land.

Sunday, April 19, 7:00 p.m.  Lebanon Historical Society, Lebanon Community center.  Stories from the land.

 Monday, April 20, Noon. Fox Valley Book Festival, UW-Fox Valle, Union.. Whispers and Shadows and The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.

Wednesday, April 22, 6:30 Patterson Memorial Library, Wild Rose. Mid-Wisconsin Launch of Whispers and Shadows. Fundraiser for the library.

Friday, April 24, 8:00 p.m. Ice Age Trail Org. Wis. Dells, Winter Green Resort.  Old Farm

Tuesday, April 28, 11:00 a.m. Wisconsin Public Radio, Larry Meiller Show. Whispers and Shadows

Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 p.m. Black River Falls Library, Sky Line Golf Course. Stories from the land

Sunday, May 3, 1:00 p.m. Readers’ Realm Bookstore,  147 E. Montello Street, Montello, WI Whispers and Shadows.

Tuesday, May 5, 10:30. Chilton Library, Chilton, WI Whispers and Shadows.

Purchase Jerry’s DVDS and his Books from the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Wisconsin (a fund raiser for them):

The library now has available signed copies of Jerry’s DVDs, Emmy Winner, A Farm Winter with Jerry Apps and Jerry Apps A Farm Story.
Also available are several of Jerry’s signed books including The Quiet Season (on which the DVD A Farm Winter is based), as well as Rural Wit and Wisdom and Old Farm, (which are related to the DVD Jerry Apps a Farm Story). Also available is Jerry’s new novel, The Great Sand Fracas of Ames County.
Contact the library for prices and special package deals.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.org
www.wildroselibrary.org
920-622-3835