As Steve Martin used to sing, “I’m a ramblin’ man.” Though I think rambling a while and coming home again wasn’t quite what he had in mind. To and fro, hither and yon. And back.
This past weekend I went down to Iowa to attend the annual Jul celebration at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. Jul, as you must know if you’ve read my books, is what Norwegians call Christmas. Some family members who live down there were curious to attend the event, and invited me along. Note: It’s a one-day event.
If you live in these parts, you know what happened next. A massive ice storm glazed most of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Nobody was going anyplace. Instead of visiting Vesterheim, we vegged out at their house, watching Netflix. Then I drove home yesterday night. I got free food and lodging — who am I to complain?
Today I had another ramble to do. My translating boss has asked me to do some research for a book to tie in with “Atlantic Crossing.” I’d made an appointment with the archivist at the Norwegian-American Historical Association in Northfield, Minnesota. It’s not a long drive from the Cities.
The drive went OK. The problem was finding my way around St. Olaf College, where NAHA makes its home. Parking is hard to come by at Holy Oley, and I ended up parked in a remote outpost. I found my way to the proper address with the help of my GPS (I swear all the St. O. buildings look the same), and learned after asking around that NAHA is located down the stairs, down the hall, and then down another stairway.
I found it at last. The archivist and the director were both very gracious and helpful. I spent the proverbial day flipping through dusty files – which is kind of fun. Found some things I hope will be useful to my Norwegian masters. Then I went out in the cold and searched about 20 minutes for my parking lot – it was the third one I checked. Then home. It was rush hour when I got back, but miraculously the traffic ran fairly smoothly.
And that’s where I’ve been. No grass grows under my feet. Especially in December.