Barnesville Roots

My family lives in Grand Forks, but we have ties to many other places. I was raised on a farm in the Minot area, and there are reminders of that part of my life everywhere I look. I lived in Fargo for seven years, and I need only look at my dear wife Sue for an everyday reminder of what I hold most dear from that time period. I have lived in Grand Forks longer than anywhere else, and I now think of it as my home. Sue and I have a good life here, and it has been a great place for us to work and raise our son Carl.

Sue is from Barnesville and her tie to the small Minnesota town has led to a fair amount of items from her past being in our home as well. Well, last night Sue came home from Barnesville and brought something alive with her. It wasn’t a little white dog this time; it was a rhubarb plant from her Mom’s yard!

I had purchased a “Strawberry Rhubarb” plant a decade ago from a local nursery, with the promise of sweet, bright red stalks for the rest of my life. The stalks were sweet and red, but they were also pretty small, and the plant never seemed to bear as much as I wanted. The plant also didn’t seem very hardy because after a couple of decent years initially, the hill seemed to shrink and become less productive every season after. Last spring the leaves failed to emerge, and I realized that the unthinkable had actually happened: I had outlived my rhubarb plant!

Sue comes from a long line of rhubarb growers, and their hills are always thriving. They pull out the stalks, lop off the leaves, and dip them in sugar before popping them in their mouths raw. They also make pie, cake, bread and crisp with their plant’s abundant offerings, and freeze what’s left for use during winter. Their stalks are not bright red, but they are quite sweet with a good rhubarb flavor. Her family does love their rhubarb!

I dug a hole in a corner of my garden and transplanted the plant this afternoon. With any luck, this hill will last a lifetime, and will still be providing sweet stalks for generations to come. It is yet another gift from my Mother-in-law Gladys, who already shared something sweet with me decades ago when I married her daughter Sue. Good things do come from Barnesville!

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4 Responses to Barnesville Roots

  1. Jon J. says:

    This was very well written Jim. I’ve found myself reading your blog to relax. The stories you share are very comforting.

  2. Lisa Sonterre says:

    Barnesville was my hometown until my family moved to Fargo when I was 5. It has great memories for my older brothers and sisters. They remember swimming in the lake and attending the Catholic school. I remember the dentist visits and the great hamburgers from the main street restaurant. They even grilled the bun-so good! My mom and sisters still love to go back for Potato Days. I wonder if your wife knew/went to school with old of my siblings. Small world~~

  3. James R Johnson says:

    Hope you buried a bag of rotted manure/compost under the rhubarb. They like lots of food! Also require a good bit of sunshine, full day sunshine is the best. Expect some of either was mssing on your past experience.

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