Friday, June 25, 2010

What If There's a Fire During the Parade?

Ever worry about fire breaking out in a small town, while the Fire Department was in a parade?

Probably not.

It's happened, though: during the 2007 Loonfoot Falls' River Revel Parade.

I was watching the parade from a spot between Birch and Alder Streets, on Center Avenue. Fire engines at the head of the parade were about two blocks away when one of Loonfoot Falls' finest loped to his car, talking earnestly into that box they keep on their shoulders. And took off, lights flashing and siren on.

I heard more sirens going by, northwards: probably running along Park Avenue.

Then I noticed smoke coming up, somewhere to the east. I headed for the fire. My motivation was more than idle curiosity, or a journalist's instinct. I'd left my car parked in that direction. Right where most of the Loonfoot Falls Fire Department and one of our police cars were double- and triple-parked.

My car was okay. The one two spaces closer to downtown had to be towed. The engine fire was out by the time I got there, and the firefighters were discussing how to get re-inserted in the parade.

They got back in, near the back of the procession. That interruption may have thrown the rest of the parade off: by the time they reached the fairgrounds, there was almost a block between some of the units.

It's good to know that the Fire Department can respond, even if they're tied up in a parade when they're needed.

Friday, June 18, 2010

River Revel Parade Next Week

You've probably seen the Rose Bowl and Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades on television. Maybe you've been there in person.

Loonfoot Falls' River Revel parade isn't quite like those. With about 100 units each year, it's not quite as big. We also don't have titanic balloons wafting over the crowd, or a rule that the floats have to be covered in flowers.

Back in the seventies, Dave Eskridge urged the Chamber of Commerce to have at least one float covered by duck feathers, as a reminder of the traditional Duck Races. Then someone calculated how many ducks would have to be plucked and Mr. Erskin's idea was dropped.

After experimenting with themes like "Weekend on the Lake" and "Camping Trip," the Chamber decided to get back to their roots, or maybe anchorage, in the Loonfoot River, with "River of Fun."

The public library is tying their summer reading program into that general idea, with a "Reading is Fun" float. I've heard that they're having people sit in inner tubes, reading.

Sonia Johnson, the event organizer, told me that it's a challenge, coming up with a fresh "River of Something" theme: but is counting on "River of Fun" being, well, fun.

There will be the usual marching, polka and rock bands in the parade, plus horses and tractors. I suppose it's a cliché, but the Loonfoot Falls' River Revel Parade really is "fun for the whole family." Plus, it's a good way for area businesses to remind folks that they're still around.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I had Stan P. edit/correct your online column. We caught it before it hit the press.

Another time, if you're feeling this way: let me know. You've got sick days coming.

I'll see that you're covered for Monday, if you want to take the day off.


Friday, June 11, 2010

At Raith's Lake: Alone?

I've heard that what folks call rivers and creeks, lakes and ponds, mountains and hills, depends on where they are.

If the "hills" east of San Francisco Bay were in Minnesota, we'd probably call them "mountains." Someone claimed that Minnesotans call any watercourse that doesn't dry up in August a "river." There's something to that: Some of Minnesota's "rivers" are pretty small. But a body of standing water has to be pretty big before we'll call it a "lake." Generally.

Then, there's Raith's Lake. It's within an hour's drive of Loonfoot Falls: provided you know how to get there. It's a little easier to find than Lake 13. The nearest road is over a mile away, but If you know exactly what you're looking for, you can make out the cabin - it's more of a shed - by the dock.

Angus Raith built that cabin when he owned the land it's on, almost a hundred years ago. Like other owners since then, he used it as a source of water for his cattle and a place to cool off on hot summer days.

Some places are secluded. Raith's Lake is isolated.

Standing on the old dock, I've felt, well, exposed. Like everybody, or maybe everything, for miles around can see me. The pond is surrounded by hills, with a scattering of trees nearby: so there's something to that impression.

Oddly, the evening fogs around Raith's Lake increase the feeling that someone's watching. Or maybe something.

Next week: River Revel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Zucchini: More Than You Probably Want to Know

Here are some of the more interesting online discussions of zucchini:

Zucchini, the Kitchen Garden's Overachiever

Zucchini: the vegetable kingdom's answer to bratwurst.

There's a reason why you don't see much zucchini in the grocery's produce section. Those green sausages don't keep very well: and one gardening enthusiast can keep an entire neighborhood supplied for the summer.

I found out more than I planned to, about zucchini, doing research for Heather Fisk. Most of us know zucchini as something that the neighbor brings in a basket. Along with an apologetic 'could you take some of these?'

Zucchini started out in Central and South America, was brought as an exotic food to Europe, and took root in Italy. Our zucchini is a descendant of those transplanted Italian plants.

Zucchini is called courgette in French: and so is some yellow thing that's sort of like zucchini. They're now part of French cuisine. Which is like food, only more expensive.

Perhaps mercifully, zucchini is a relatively delicate plant. Frost can kill it, although the survivors generally produce more of those long green things. A zucchini can be two feet long and six inches across. The smaller ones taste better, though.

Don't misunderstand me: I like zucchini. And, thanks to the generosity of my neighbors, I've had opportunities to try most of the hundreds of zucchini recipes. Like blueberry zucchini bread, zucchini relish and zucchini pumpkin bread.

Which reminds me. Zucchinis can be crossed with pumpkins. Stan Parks is growing what he assures me is a small crop of the things. I'll probably see the first in a couple months.
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