Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hope found...

Even with all the turmoil in the world... hope appeared.

At a funeral, no less!

Even though disastrous headlines may show the cruelty of man... and the emptiness of souls... I found hope at a gathering of broken-hearted folks as they mourned the death of the individual who was their mother... relative... or friend.

She wasn't a famous person, this Mary Olson.  Even her name was not unusual... we're in Scandinavian Minnesota ya know!  

Nor was she highly honored... except in the hearts of those who knew her.

As I sat in the balcony of the little old church on the prairie for her memorial service, I was encouraged by the words of those who had known and loved her.

The pastor went though the old liturgy as you would expect.  The songs were ones I presumed she would have loved.

Although I, with my usual wandering mind appreciated it... at the same time I worried if the old balcony I was sitting in was strong enough to hold the crowd of people jammed in!  And then I thought about all the chores I could be doing... and so on.

But my concentration came back when her son Wyatt spoke.  He explained how Mary had passed away after heart surgery.  And it was "not surprising" that her heart was prematurely worn out, he concluded.   "If the heart is where love comes from, then (hers) got a real workout.

"She empathized with people.  She made them feel special.  She brought them comfort.  She put her heart out there for others."

His sister Cammy told the congregation that her mother "has given me great inner strength.  I don't mourn my Mom today, I celebrate her life.  What she gave to the world, her family, her friends...

"The good deeds she has done.  The smiles she has brought forth.  She always helped people.  She saw a need and acted.  She taught her children to help."

And because of this training, when Cammy was on her way to the church she had stopped at a gas station.   The lady at the next pump had realized she had forgotten her purse and asked for $3 so she could just get a gallon of gas and could get her grandson in the car to his destination.

When going inside to pay, the clerk explained to Cammy that she didn't see people help a stranger very often.

But Cammy had been taught by Mary.

And she concluded that "There are people all over this world who need us to help them in their daily lives.  People all over this world need our kindness.  They need that spirit of giving without expecting anything in return."

Cammy pointed to a table filled with angel figurines that Mary had collected over the years.  It was the wish of Cammy, Wyatt and their sister Deanna that everyone take one home and remember Mary.

Cammy concluded, Let it be a reminder of "what good and kindnesses you can share with the world each day.  Be someone's angel."

Thereby you will be continuing Mary Olson's legacy.

Because of this experience, I have been given back some hope in mankind.  

And so I thank all the quiet and hidden "Marys" in the world... and the folks who honor them.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

No where else on the planet!

    Rare species blooming here.

The larger and more common Trout Lily is surrounded by the 
endangered species of wildflower, the tiny Dwarf Trout Lily.

It's that time of year in the Cannon Valley!
The budding of the rare and endangered forest wildflower, the Dwarf Trout Lily (Erythronium propullans), that only grows in in this area and nowhere else on the entire planet.

Each spring, folks search for the tiny flower in the river bottoms, also in state parks and along trails.    
Concern this year is due to the effect of flooding and the deposit of sand on some of the known colonies.

The Dwarf Trout Lily is only about six inches tall with four to six petals that may be pale pink to whitish, about the size of a dime as compared to the larger Trout Lily which has a flower size  of about a quarter.  

It is found on fewer than 600 acres of woodland habitat, rich slopes that are dominated by maple and basswood and adjoining floodplains dominated by elm and cottonwood.  It grows before the deciduous trees develop their leaves and in approximately three weeks it has  bloomed, generated its food reserves for the coming year and disappeared.

“The Minnesota dwarf trout lily possesses a genetic and chemical makeup unlike that of any other plant... (and) is potentially valuable to all of us... (as) ingredients in medicines and other useful products." It is listed as federally endangered with a penalty for violation set at $25,000.  (Information from Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.)

For more information look at the video on or contact Paul and Rosie Schluter, or Pat Anderson at the Cannon Falls Chamber of Commerce,