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Articles written by Anne Dugan


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  • Wrenshall celebrates Halloween

    Anne Dugan|Nov 4, 2022

    With school colors of black and orange, it makes sense that Wrenshall should go all out for Halloween. The school's recently formed Partners in Education (PIE) group joined with Wrenshall Community Education to offer a family fun night Oct. 28 in the school commons area. School board member Misty Bergman provided totes full of decorations, including ghouls, goblins, and a healthy number of plastic rats. Karola Dalen spent the week leading up to the party coming up with signature spooks to... Full story

  • Wrens Nest: Artist finds inspiration in the everyday

    Anne Dugan|May 20, 2022

    Jake Tremble moved to Wrenshall a year ago in June with his girlfriend, Claire, and dog, Gracey. The couple had been living in Duluth, and he had been training as a classical painter at the Great Lakes Academy of Art. The two were looking to be part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) and found Wrenshall's own Northern Harvest Farm. What started as just a place to get vegetables turned into a job at the farm for Claire, and a home for the couple down the road in a farmhouse they share... Full story

  • Wren's Nest: Wrenshall celebrates the arts on Friday

    Anne Dugan|May 6, 2022

    Molly Kidd can't remember the last time her art students at Wrenshall School were able to show off their work to family and friends, but colleague and school music teacher Tim Rahkola knows exactly when it was. "We were planning for a spring Grandparents Day in 2020," Rahkola told me, "when everything got shut down." The two arts specialists have been planning a return to the spring tradition this Friday, May 6, as a way for students to celebrate creative pursuits and show off the newly...

  • Wren's Nest: Farmers gather to share ideas, community

    Anne Dugan|Mar 18, 2022

    As the snow gets a bit soggy around the edges, thoughts of spring aren't far from the minds of Wrenshall area farmers, and many have been planning for the coming season by attending conferences and symposiums. My husband, Janaki Fisher-Merritt of the Food Farm, signed up for the virtual option of last month's organic vegetable production conference run by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and presented remotely to the Quebec ministry of agriculture. We had a few representatives from...

  • Wrens Nest: Winter brings much work on farms

    Anne Dugan|Jan 14, 2022

    At a recent Carlton County Board of Commissioners meeting, one member asked the audience, “What do farmers actually do in the winter?” While I was initially a taken aback by the question — being married to a farmer I see firsthand the amount of work that goes into running an operation — I decided that I should treat the query as curiosity rather than dismiss it as woeful ignorance. In our household, my husband cuts back to about 50 or 60 hours a week versus the 80 he spends during the growing...

  • Wrenshall News: Residents light the way

    Anne Dugan|Dec 17, 2021

    By the time the English poet John Milton had completed his epic poem “Paradise Lost” in 1664, he was completely blind. He dictated most of the verse to his aides, which included his three daughters. That is partly why the theme of light plays so heavily in the text with many references to the light inside of us and comparisons between salvation and light: “Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.” Written at a time of political upheaval in Britain, Milton uses the poem to...

  • Wren's Nest: Tree culling advice leads to a cozy cabin

    Anne Dugan|Dec 3, 2021

    Over the last two years, my rural Wrenshall neighbor Burnell Peterson has built a cabin entirely of wood from trees he planted on his property 40 years ago. Peterson is quick to give Kelly Smith credit for the genesis of the project. “If it hadn’t been for Kelly, those red pine would still be standing,” he said. Two years ago, he reached out to Smith, who serves as a forestry technician at the Carlton County Soil and Water Conservation District, for assistance with planting a native pollinator h...

  • Carlton news

    Anne Dugan|Aug 20, 2021

    Although summer is winding down, we can still enjoy the warm temperatures and our favorite ice cream treat. I thought back to when I was a kid and my mom would buy one pint of ice cream from Bystrom's Grocery on the corner of Highway 33 and Freeman Road in Sunnyside. That pint of vanilla ice cream would be divided into five slices and served on homemade apple pie or cantaloupe for a Sunday evening treat for my family. In those days we bought ice cream in small amounts because the freezer...

  • Opera comes to the country

    Anne Dugan|Aug 13, 2021

    The opera is coming to the shores of Lac La Belle Tuesday, Aug. 17. The Lyric Opera of the North, or LOON, as it is lovingly called, will be presenting its Summer Sparkler event in person on the grounds of the Historic Scott House. When the artists take the stage, it will have been 585 days since the company performed in front of a live audience, and artistic director Sarah Lawrence admits, “I’ve had lots of tears. To be singing again, and doing it collaboratively with other people, it just fee...

  • Calendar is filling up fast

    Anne Dugan|Jul 16, 2021

    Wrenshall's August event calendar is filling up fast, so I want to take a moment to make sure everyone has a preview of the upcoming activities in your neighborhood! The month kicks off with Brickyard Days, Aug. 6 and 7. A community picnic will open the festivities 5-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, in the city hall parking lot. On Saturday, Aug. 7, there will be a 5k run, and the traditional celebratory parade starts at 10 a.m. This year the parade will feature the first of what will be an annual...

  • Wrenshall News: Honeyberries hit market

    Anne Dugan|Jul 2, 2021

    Local Wrenshall farmer Jason Amundson describes the taste of the honeyberry as what would happen if a blueberry fell in love with a pack of SweeTARTS: some are sweet, some are sour, some are tart, and they are all ripening faster than they ever have before. "In 2019 we knew reliably that we could count on the berries to be ripe on the Fourth of July," he said. "Last year we opened for picking on June 30. This year it was June 25. It's terrifying." I spoke to Jason and his wife and farming...

  • Wrenshall news: Summer has taken hold

    Anne Dugan|Jun 25, 2021

    This past weekend we planned a pizza party to celebrate many colliding holidays. There were birthdays, Father's Day, and the summer solstice. But the biggest celebration was for the inch of rain that fell on the farm. While we're probably back to irrigating at the end of this week, it was a welcome drink of water for all the organisms that make this acreage home. One crop that seems unfazed by the unpredictable weather conditions is rhubarb. A healthy fistful of stalks was sent in our first...

  • Wrenshall News: Students learn bike basics

    Anne Dugan|May 21, 2021

    My son Truman came home last week talking about his class at Wrenshall riding bikes during Derek Duncan’s gym class. “The purple bikes are the big bikes and they have hand brakes and everything.” The past two weeks a host of bikes have been used by students to practice riding skills and the basics of cycling maintenance. I called Duncan, as I was curious about the program and in awe of how he manages to corral so many children on wheels: “I think it is such a great thing to learn — it’s a life s... Full story

  • Minogitoon: Movies in a Wrenshall barn, that's cool, right?

    Anne Dugan|May 21, 2021

    I’m not usually fan of knick-knacks and I like to keep the mantle over my fireplace pretty clean but there is one statue that I allow to keep a permanent perch: “The Jonake” by Edward Knudsen. The two-inch-high wire and clay figure depicts a farmer in overalls and plaid shirt holding a sign for the Free Range Film Festival. Underneath the inscription reads: “Every year, in a big old barn, Jonake Fisher-Merritt holds a film festival. He shows dozens of local independent films over a few days at t... Full story

  • Celebrate a day for differences

    Anne Dugan|May 14, 2021

    There is a day for most everything now – if you visit nationaltoday.com, you’ll see that today, Friday, is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, National Dance Like a Chicken Day, National Underground America day and National Decency Day. It is also Apraxia Awareness Day. Count from 1 to 10 as fast as you can. Now switch the numbers 4 and 8 and see how fast you can count. For people with verbal apraxia, that is how it feels to talk. There is a motor mapping issue in the brain that makes exp...

  • Wrenshall News: Not all worms are the same

    Anne Dugan|Apr 23, 2021

    Last week the Wrenshall kindergarten class did some great worm rescuing after so many got displaced by the rainy weather. The students read books about the life cycle of a worm, learned the names of their body parts and were able to study them up close with magnifying glasses. The common earthworm has some surprises that might not be obvious given their bland beige exterior. They have five hearts and can live for up to 10 years. The myth that you can cut a worm up and it will turn into two, is... Full story

  • Wrenshall News: Sunflowers bring light

    Anne Dugan|Apr 9, 2021

    I don’t know if it was the warmest Easter on record, but it sure felt special to be outside without winter gear last weekend. We celebrated with family outside around the pizza oven and feasted on ham and pineapple toppings, with plenty of chocolate eggs for dessert. We hiked back to our irrigation pond and heard a deafening number of chorus and wood frogs and saw two trumpeter swans swimming in the now open water. Janaki brought a pole along and we checked all the fields for frost. It might b... Full story

  • Wrenshall news: Dress-up days at school

    Anne Dugan|Apr 2, 2021

    Homecoming week for Wrenshall is coming up next week and despite the differences in its delivery, it will be full of festivities. There are dress up days throughout the week and, given that some parents are still having to work from home, they might want to get in on the costuming as well. Tuesday is sports day, Wednesday is pajama day, Thursday is cartoon day, and Friday is school spirit day. The actual homecoming coronation ceremony will be livestreamed on the Wrenshall School Facebook page....

  • Wrenshall news: Spring hits its marks

    Anne Dugan|Mar 26, 2021

    At 4:37 a.m. on March 20, we officially passed into spring with the vernal equinox. We’ve tipped the scales and there is a little more light every day. Our family joined plenty of other folks around the area with a big fire in the backyard to boil down sap. I saw two trumpeter swans fly across the fields just as I was putting the maple syrup into jars. In the greenhouse, our onion seeds are up about an inch in their flats. After checking on the starts, I grabbed an onion from the root cellar o...

  • Spring in Wrenshall

    Anne Dugan|Mar 12, 2021

    This month is feeling a lot more like a new year to me than January did. Social media is filled with posts from folks remembering their last public event before lockdown measures swept the country, and I can’t help but compare each day to where we were last March. There are hopeful signs on the horizon as case numbers fall and vaccinations continue to expand. Spring in Minnesota is an inherently unpredictable time and the precarious nature of our place in this pandemic seems matched by the s...

  • A love affair with books

    Anne Dugan|Feb 19, 2021

    In English, we have the term bookworm to describe someone who is always reading. According to historian Nick Kapur, most every other language has a similar phrase. In Spanish and French there is book rat, in Finnish there is chapter maggot, and in Norwegian there is reading horse. All describe animals consuming and devouring books, something that some of us can relate to, especially given the relentless subzero temperatures and increased time in isolation. Wrenshall library media assistant...

  • Wrenshall News: Seeds need acute care

    Anne Dugan|Feb 12, 2021

    Like many Americans this past Sunday, I celebrated the largest sporting event of the year by eating my fair share of avocado. I realized it might be a fun science project for my kids and me to watch the pits sprout in water. After just one day, the skins had already cracked. I have them sitting on my windowsill and we check to see the progress every morning. The word of the day in my mother's kindergarten class on Tuesday was "seed" so there have been a couple new additions to the windowsill: A...

  • Winter lock loosens a bit

    Anne Dugan|Feb 5, 2021

    For me and my neighbors, it feels far too early to think of the promise of spring. But I have appreciated the return of evening light as I walk to the mailbox at 5 p.m. While most phenological changes are happening "in the belly" of the earth, local farmers are on the verge of starting seeds for the coming season and many of our area's food share farms are now open for member sign-ups. The Dalens at Northern Harvest Farms (northernharvestfarm.com) and Catherine Conover from Stone's Throw Farm...

  • I'm from Wrenshall and more

    Anne Dugan|Jan 29, 2021

    As gradeschoolers in Wrenshall made their way back to the classroom this week, the learning theme that my mom came up with is “My Neighborhood.” Our kids created a map of their little slice of the county and searched for tracks from critter neighbors in the snow. Our map had the Brickyard restaurant on it and we were thrilled to see it open again after the state eased some pandemic safety measures. We eagerly ordered takeout there the last two Fridays and, after cooking all our family’s meals...

  • Wrenshall News: Just reaching out can work

    Anne Dugan|Jan 15, 2021

    When I was young I remember my mom telling me a story about a guy whose car had broken down on a country road with a flat tire. It was late at night and bitter cold. He had helped his wife with a blowout the week before so he was left on the side of the road with no jack and no sign of help. This was before cell phones so his only option was to start walking. He could see a light on in the distance so he pulled his coat tight and set out. As he trudged along he started to worry. Surely he would...

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