Valley Gardening: A night for Dad

Well…winter was here on Thursday…and now it’s gone again. It amazes me that I am still able to work on cleaning up gardens, even if only for 2-3 hours a day, when the sun is shining bright. As nice as it is, I really am hoping for snow, and more snow, and lots more snow!

When you talk to business owners in Creede, Del Norte, South Fork and beyond, the poor skiing conditions have been brutal to those whose livelihood depends on the ski industry. The hit on this economy will trickle down to hundreds and hundreds of folks wishing for snow. And that will hurt all of us, sooner or later. It’s kind of like everyone shopping on Amazon because it’s so damn easy and forgetting about their small town businesses.

Sooner or later, that Amazon/internet shopping is going to put every small, locally owned store out of business. Who will you go to for you charitable donations when that happens?

Meanwhile, next Tuesday, December 19th is a special day for my family—the Iveland’s from Luverne, MN. On that day, my dad, would wake up in the morning, hang the American flag and say “25 (or however many years it was) years ago today I was in prison camp.” The day he was captured was a Tuesday in 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. My dad would not say another word all day, and his eight children knew that we needed to be respectful, be quiet. We just knew.

Dad’s sister, Alice, kept a scrapbook of Dad’s war history, but most of it was blackened out. We knew from newspaper articles how horrible the camps were. Years afterwards, my dad received the Medal of Honor from a Minnesota senator. It was in December. We had a surprise party and reenacted his capture. Fritz and Anna (old German friends) captured him and took him to the VFW, where he was held in a tent. Arlene and Torlief Thompson served him blackened potato peels and water that was reminiscent of his diet for over six months. Portions of his letters home were read and the Medal of Honor was given—35 years after it was earned. It was the only time I ever saw my Dad cry. Ever.

My father died an early, sudden death. Totally unexpected. My baby sister Paula was doing research on this history and found guys who had been in prison camp with my Dad. It turned out that a number of them had also passed away. It was determined that wearing heavy army boots on long marches and never being able to take them off led to circulation problems. Can you imagine…wearing a pair of boots for over six months? I can hardly wait to take my shoes off every night! Ironically, one of Dad’s favorite TV shows was Hogan’s Heroes.

Next Tuesday at the Green Spot, we will host the 5th annual Memories and Reflections celebration. We have been working our butts off putting lights up everywhere! After moving the celebration around to this weekend or that weekend, I decided that it will be on the 19th every year, no matter what day of the week. It will allow me to honor my Dad, and also my Mom and my sister who died from cancer.

On this evening folks come to the Spot, make a $10-$20 donation to the SLV Cancer Relief Fund, light a candle and place it around the pond. I am hoping for over 200 candles—what energy! We will be providing the ham and buns and folks will be bringing desserts and salads. Those great guys at Square Peg Brewerks are also supporting the cause to help our friends, families and neighbors dealing with cancer. Fred Hargrove will be performing—himself being a cancer survivor! Give me a call if you want to know more about the Cancer Relief Fund and what they do. Or come to the Spot on the 19th.

Meanwhile…my Dad and thousands of others died so that you can be free. Respect me, as I respect you.  Don’t call me names for how I might have voted—that’s the same as bullying, you know. Do what you can in your own community to make it better. I know I have written this before—about my Dad, and about freedom, and respect. I guess I’m thinking we need to revisit our freedoms, and how they were earned, lest that chapter of our history be forgotten! It’s been 73 years.