The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and another year passes under my wheels.
Where did the year go? This seems a fitting time to investigate that issue by perusing my computer's hard drive and the less-reliable, gray-matter-based organic memory banks.
One of the big events of this past year included my wife and I marking 30 years of marriage. This remarkable feat was made even more remarkable when we happened to meet Brad and Monica, a dairy farm couple who also tied the knot on that exact date!
We had a celebratory supper with Brad and Monica during which the wives swapped "war stories" about our wedding days. Brad and I mostly kept mum. Weddings are fairly abstract events for us guys; all we need to do is show up on time, wear a particular getup and stand where told. In other words, it's much like childbirth.
Our wives had a very different, much more vivid perspective. They spoke of the all struggles and pains and worries leading up to the Big Event which, in the long view, was deemed to be Worth It. In other words, it's very much like childbirth.
My job as journalist enabled me to meet and interview some very interesting folks during this past year, including a sitting governor. In all fairness, I also sat during our chat.
I am not a political animal. I peaked out, politically-wise, when I was elected secretary/ treasurer of our 4-H club. I don't have the stomach for politics, but nevertheless enjoy watching our national blood sport.
The governor and I had a pleasant talk and discovered that we have many things in common. We both grew up milking cows in a stanchion barn and agreed that nothing good ever comes with a wet tail to the face. Both of us attended grade school in a one-room schoolhouse and eventually married gals of German descent.
Trouble arose when I learned that the governor, like me, has deep Nordic roots. I may have asked if he partakes of lutefisk and he might have replied that he doesn't really care for the stuff.
Before I could stop myself, the word "Apostate!" might have leapt from my lips. This may explain why I haven't been invited back. It's also probably why mentioning that I know the governor hasn't helped me with speeding tickets.
Another interesting person I met this past year was Trygve Trooien, a Norwegian bachelor farmer who has an extensive collection of bib overalls. I had long associated bib overalls with the phrase "stodgy old farmer," but Trygve used some sort of mystical Norwegian jujitsu to turn this on its head. Specifically, he holds fashion shows as a way to publicly share his bib overall collection -with said overalls modeled by attractive young ladies! Trygve is a flat-out genius.
Speaking of super-smart people, I also got to meet Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin is autistic and a professor of Animal Sciences at Colorado State University. She has long been at the forefront of the movement to create more humane livestock slaughtering facilities.
"We owe it to our animals," said Dr. Grandin during our chat, "to treat them humanely and to kill them as quickly and painlessly as possible."
My wife and I had watched the biopic about Temple Grandin and found it entertaining and enlightening. The one criticism I might offer is that Claire Danes bears scant resemblance to Dr. Grandin.
No less interesting is Larry Groon, a former dairy farmer and self-taught luthier. Larry speaks of varieties of wood in a manner that reminds one of a wine connoisseur waxing eloquent about rare vintages. The difference is that Larry can turn wood and glue and strings into a thing of beauty that isn't only a joy for the eye, but a delight for the auditory canal.
More recently, I visited with several members of the Dakota Spirit Magnum cheerleading squad. My two younger sisters were cheerleaders in high school and would often practice their cheers during milking. The cows were soon switching their tails in unison.
The cheerleaders I spoke with recently have taken cheering to a whole other level. They also have more energy in their little pinkies than I have in my entire body.
It pleased me deeply to learn that they had created a video wherein they did some of their cheer routine with a Holstein cow. The cow in question was a gigantic fiberglass facsimile, but it was nonetheless profoundly gratifying to see my sisters' tradition being kept alive.
There isn't room to mention all the interesting folks my wife and I met during this past year's travels. We're looking forward to meeting more such people in the coming year.