Saturday, June 20, 2009

Midsummer's Eve Picnic

Our Sons of Norway lodge, Hardanger 4-652, invited the nearby Dunn County lodge, Vang 4-674 (remember them?), to join us today to celebrate Sankthansaften ["Saint John's Eve"], or Midsummer's Eve. Would you like to know more about how and why Scandinavians celebrate Midsummer's Eve? Then see this, this, and this. Bonfires, processions, and music are important parts of midsummer celebrations in Norway. If I understand correctly, our lodge usually gathers at Lake Ilo outside Dunn Center, ND for a picnic and bonfire each Sankthansaften (this is our family's first summer in the organization, so I'm sketchy on the details), and that had been the plan for today, too.

However, so many of the fish at Lake Ilo died this spring that it's not a very pleasant place to be at the moment (think: stench of rotting fish), so we had the picnic at the city park in Dunn Center. We canceled the bonfire idea altogether due to the wind-tunnel-like gusts blowing us around all day. Instead we held our lodge meeting at a picnic shelter in the park followed by the potluck picnic, after which people trickled away gradually.

To the south of this picnic shelter, in the sunlight, is the new playground equipment, which the girls enjoyed after eating. The tablecloth-covered table in the front is where we piled up the potluck. Susan made a tater tot hotdish and a fresh fruit salad to share. Others brought macaroni salads, fried chicken, baked beans, cookies, and desserts. It was delicious!

The Mobergs, of course, were some of the last dogs to leave town; but we had a good visit with some of the lodge officers who hung around until the end, too. One of those officers is the lodge's cultural skills director, and during the meeting she called upon our family to give a report on our recent weekend at Camp Trollfjorden (remember?). Susan and Suzanna, having learned to knit at camp, will start attending the weekly cultural skills meetings to learn even more about knitting from this woman. Another of those officers is the secretary, and she's originally from northwest ND, as am I, so she likes to talk with me about my dad and what's going on in that area these days. (She also made an official announcement during the meeting that it's so great to have our family in the lodge: a young family that is so interested and active. "Yay!" for us!) Another of those officers is the president, and his extended family has many connections to Susan's dad's family because of having been raised in the same area of southwest ND. Small world!

After we had eaten and the girls had played on the new playground equipment in the park and enjoyed its clean, modern restroom facilities (with showers for campers' convenience) and we had stayed visiting until the bitter end, we collected the remains of our food and got in the van to drive home. On the way we decided to drive around Lake Ilo; we'd never been there before; and it's just off the highway between Dunn Center and Killdeer on the route home for us anyway, so we thought we'd drive by and take a look. We parked at a spot that featured a couple informational signs so that we could read a bit about the history of the refuge and take photos of some of the birds perched nearby.

In just a few moments, who should happen to pull up behind us but the secretary and the president, whom we had just said our goodbyes to only minutes earlier in town! They wanted to check on the status of the fish stink and so decided to drive out to the lake, too. Upon hearing that we had never been to Lake Ilo before today, they offered to drive us to a few points of interest. We took them up on the offer and ended up with quite a few great photographs of the excellent scenery and beautiful summer evening sky.

Can you see the birdies sitting on the island in the lake?

Here, we'll zoom in on them a bit.

Soon the tour ended, they went on their own way, and we drove the gravel roads from the south side of Lake Ilo back to Highway 22 north of Manning and then home to Dickinson. As it turns out, we had been on that stretch of gravel road before: it's how we got from Vang Lutheran Church to Dunn Center after the Syttende Mai festival in May (remember?). This time, however, we saw/heard something that we hadn't the first time around: a war of the words between two cattle. As we approached the intersection of two gravel roads, we heard one bovine dude in the southwest corner of one pasture bellering at another in the northeast corner of the pasture across the road. He had been bellering so long and hard, in fact, that he was losing his voice! (I made him sound like a freak of genetics when I said to our daughters, "Look, girls! A hoarse cow!")

I pulled over in front of him, opened the windows, and shut off the vehicle so we could listen to him. Susan wasn't enthused about being the person closest to him and seemed less amused than I was by his pawing the ground and giving us the evil eye as he continued to bray. She really didn't appreciate it when I pointed out how unsturdy the fence posts appeared that held the thin wires separating him from us. To be fair, I then pulled over to the other guy, putting myself in a similarly dangerous position. We got photos and video of both of them and then went on our way.

Bellering at Susan (for interrupting his bellering at the guy across the road).

Being standoffish toward me (for blocking his view of his hoarse adversary across the road).

(Update: For dinner at noon, I grilled the venison that I had marinating in the fridge since yesterday afternoon [remember?]. I turned the leftovers into the filling for what my mom called "hot meat sandwiches": a homemade barbecue sauce for simmering pork or beef before serving it on toast. It was always a delicious way to eat up leftover roast, and I figure it'll do good things for the venison, too.)


  1. It is hard to believe that I grew up less than an hour's drive from Lake Ilo and never even KNEW it was there! It was a lovely drive -- perhaps we can go back when the fish stop stinking. :-)

  2. #1....I know about the stench of fish from our airplanes. Sometimes after hauling fish, the boxes they were shipped in have leaked some water in the cargo bin....Ish! Fish!
    #2....I can just hear it now from Kevin; pointing things out to Susan in an effort to torment her!
    #3.....Having lived here in NE now for almost 14 years, there are MANY cities/lakes/various locales that I've never travled to. Don't feel bad!