Saturday, August 14, 2010

My Mother


Scene in Northfield, MN this morning along the river.


An art installation over the river in Northfield - inspired by Christo???


A very fuzzy photo of Izzy and my almost 80-year old mom at the Saturday market in Northfield, MN, population 20,000 when all of the college students are there.


Isabelle has not seen my parents / her grandparents for one year. She left last August for Spain for the year - came back on July 1 and is just now able to spend a night with them. My parents live in Northfield, Minnesota - home of Carlton College - one of the country's best small liberal arts colleges (with emphasis on liberal.) The little town has a small river running through it, a main street filled with late 19th and early 20th Century buildings, a claim to fame as the place Jesse James had his famous shootout and a very good coop. I was given the grand tour today.

Isabelle and I drove down last evening after work and my parents couldn't have been happier to have us and see Izzy after a year. "Hola," my mother says, as she hugs her. She whips out the four Spanish lines in her vocabulary and Izzy plays along.

WE sit with wine while they grill her about her year in Spain. But, within 20 minutes, Dad is itching to eat. It IS 6:45! We gather at the table for roast chicken, macaroni and cheese and white buns my father has whipped up that afternoon. It is lovely except everything is white. I remember that I have brought along both red and green heirloom tomatoes which Izzy and I quickly slice, add a little chopped basil, balsamic and olive oil. Finally, there is a vegetable and a bit of color on the table.

Mom and Izzy just buzz with conversation. It is very cute. We talk literature which my mom is quite interested in - always reading. We talk travel in Morocco which my mother can't imagine never having been on any continent but North America. They talk religion and gay rights. They are on the same side of those arguments. It is, again, very cute.

This morning, we get up and head downtown. This is quite an ordeal. My parents can't walk very well anymore - my father needs a cane (at 81) and my mother has some problems with her hip and cannot walk more than a couple of blocks without a bit of rest. She turns 80 next month. We must find parking close in, which, in Northfield we learn is not a problem. We stop at one farmer's market, quite small on Saturdays, apparently, and I pick up some fresh salsa.

Then Mom wants to show us her coop. Now, this is kind of funny to us because we've been shopping at our coop for 18 years. Before that, I shopped at one in Iowa City in the '70's. But, Mom is very excited that she shops at the local coop and wants us to see how "cool" it is. Okay, Mom. Will do. We get a tour. Literally. We walk up and down each aisle and she shows us what she buys.

"Oh, I get all my cleaning supplies here. And, here...I buy my facial cleansers and lotions. Oh...and here...I buy the milk from a local dairy. Here is my milk. Here is my cream....and in this aisle, I buy the Thousand Hills hamburger. It is also local. Oh, and the breads are local. And here are the crackers. These are very good."

Izzy and I were so tickled that she was so excited about her coop. We pointed out a few of the things we buy at ours - and she was interested. I must say, it was very impressive. It was about the same size as my Linden Hills coop and had almost all the same things, but the Northfield Coop wins by a hair. It had a slightly broader selection. It really was very good. And Mom was quite proud.

"Grandma, you should run for the board. See, they are looking for board members (as she pointed to a sign on the front door.) You could launch your political career," Izzy said in her dry and smart-ass way.

"Oh, that's okay," my mom said. She'd rather just shop there and buy her vegan aioli, which she thinks is super cool. She didn't know Aioli is SUPPOSED to have eggs. :-)

Then we walked to the Saturday market on the river - a block away. We bought some yummy savory scones, local honey and some spinich quiche.

"I'm so happy you could come on a Saturday and come to the market. I just love this town. There is so much to do," she said with the enthusiasm only my mother can pull off with total authenticity.

She is such a gem. And a very good mom.

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