Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Fresh Eyes Column

by Caroline Downs

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A girl needs to say goodbye . . .

Posted 11/12/13 (Tue)

You all met Marvin Baker on the pages of this paper last week, and he’s going to do a fabulous job for The Kenmare News. He has tremendous experience in the newspaper business in North Dakota, and a keen eye and ear for stories.

I’ve written a few articles about Marvin, his wife Ilene and their North Star Farms organic operation in Carpio, and I’m delighted to call him colleague and friend as he takes over reporting duties here.

Which means I will be exiting stage right in the coming days. I have a couple projects left to finish and you may see a story or two in the paper with my byline, but the husband scheduled the movers for December 11th.

Once they leave, I’ll drive to Fairbanks, Alaska, with two Labrador retrievers and some good audiobooks, racing the Winter Solstice for any remaining daylight hours.

But a girl needs to say goodbye and, more than that, thank you, before she leaves. When I arrived here 13 years ago, I was a former teacher who needed a job and wanted to write.

Terry Froseth provided that opportunity, but you all made it a reality. You welcomed this reporter with no ties to North Dakota, no background in agriculture and no taste for lutefisk, and shared your stories so generously that the writing came easily.

I had fun along the way, scrambling up and down workover rigs and grain elevators, riding airboats on a national wildlife refuge, and dancing with the crowd in subzero temperatures during the CPR Holiday Train stops.

By the way, the train is scheduled for Carpio on December 18th. Go see it.

I’ve met individuals who have come to Kenmare from all over the world, including Norway, Nigeria, India, Uganda, Mexico, Australia, Uzbekistan, Great Britain and more.

I can tell a sprayer from an air seeder, and I know the paint color matters to the producer. I’ve learned a little about market prices and fertilizer plants. I still can’t differentiate between wheat and durum, but I appreciate the patchwork quilt of colors in late June when flax and canola bloom alongside grain fields, and I enjoy the mechanized ballet of harvest when the world here revolves around equipment, drivers, weather and golden crops.

There have been Class B schools and all the trimmings, from triumphs in sports, music, FFA and other programs to challenges with budgets, buildings and staff.

There have been milestones, with church, community and Danish Mill anniversaries celebrated. There have been new ventures and businesses launched. There have been catastrophes, emergencies and disasters. There have been the absurd things, like a raccoon running loose in the old Kenmare Drug store and two evacuations of the downtown square for explosives.

Most of all, and best of all, there has been you--those of you willing (well, sometimes not so willing but you still did it) to tell the story of a moment or a period or a lifetime. During some of the best and worst, and very ordinary, days in your lives, you sat down with me and answered questions and gave explanations and provided details and photos.

Then you trusted me to organize and shape those bits and pieces of information into a story.

Please know that every single time you did that, for all of these 13 years, I have been humbled and honored. Hearing and sharing stories are sacred acts, and being entrusted with these parts of your lives has been an amazing privilege.

You turned me into a writer, and I thank you from the depths of my heart.

Now, I’ll be a reader, checking The Kenmare News online version every week to see how you’re all doing.

I can’t wait to see your next stories.