Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Remembrances of L. Ray Wheeler

By his friends, students, and colleagues. North Dakotan extraordinaire, Dr. L. Ray Wheeler, passed away on November 27, 2018, in Dickinson, N.D., after a long and remarkable life. Even his death notice was poetry: “Brush off the snow and bang the drum, L. Ray Wheeler’s release has come. Ray passed away peacefully in his sleep early Tuesday morning November 27, …


Unheralded

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Homage To Col. Paul Southworth Bliss On The 100th Anniversary Of Armistice Day

By Lillian Crook and Jim Fuglie As many of you know, Jim and I have a fascination with a North Dakota poet named Paul Southworth Bliss, and we are writing his biography. For the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day, we wrote an accounting of his military service, from my research. Joining the legions of Americans sent to France to join the …


LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Helmer Hovick: My Family Link To World War I

On this 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the remembrance of my family link to the war takes me back in time. My Grandma Lilly’s brother, Helmer Hovick, a true Norwegian bachelor farmer who lived in the Dakotas in the years before the war, was a World War I doughboy. He served as a courier. When he …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — More Notes From My Wild Life: Owls

Late in October, my daughter and I traveled to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where magic happens for us no matter what see or do. We go there whenever we can. This time, we were there to join in with a research project that has taken place there for several years — banding Northern Saw-whet Owls. I assisted with this project …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Autumn Wrap-up At Red Oak House: Garden Notes No. 50

On Sunday, a sunny, pleasant, blue-sky day, we wrapped up things in the yard at Red Oak House. The eponymous tree and the others in the yard put out millions of leaves and most have now fallen. Sadly, odd weather this year caused most to turn an odd, brittle green and fall from the trees without regaling us with color. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Quixotic Quest For The Thick-Billed Kingbird: Notes From My Wild Life

The newsflash on the ND-BIRDS listserv on Monday afternoon of the sighting of an accidental bird near Cross Ranch State Park triggered what has been for me a quixotic quest to see it for myself. The Thick-billed Kingbird’s territory is in far southern Arizona and New Mexico, along the border with Mexico. This particular bird was very lost and its …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 49

We finally had blue skies in North Dakota on Friday, after a long spell of gray weather. We are grateful to go into winter with the moisture, but the dreariness was beginning to wear thin. At least we didn’t get the heavy snow that hit the eastern part of the state. We got a little snow last week, and it …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘If You Know Wilderness In The Way That You Know Love … ‘: Two Retreats To The North Unit

It has been my great fortune to have made two retreats to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park these past few weeks, a place in the Bad Lands that is very dear to my heart.  The North Unit is the heart of wildness in North Dakota and is, right now, awash in autumn glory. My first outing was …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 48: Wrapping Up The Summer Season

Although the growing season began with such promise, Jim is bemoaning that it has been a disappointing year in the vegetable gardens, as he harvests the meager take of vegetables. Last year at the same time, he was bringing in 30 or so tomatoes a day, and now he only finds about three or four ripe among the hundreds of …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Our Comment Letter On The Proposed Little Missouri River Bridge

Jim has written about the proposed new bridge over the Little Missouri State Scenic River north of Medora, N.D., that is being shoved down our throats by a megalomaniac county commissioner who wants to spend up to $20 million of our gas tax dollars on a “Bridge to Nowhere.” At the insistence of the Federal Highway Administration, the county is deep …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 47: The Daylilies Are Waning

Peak daylily bloom here at Red Oak House has passed, and I can’t help but feel a bit wistful about this. The focus of this past July has been daylilies of all kinds, and not just in my garden. Late in the month, I took in an exhibit of daylily art at Bismarck Art Gallery Associates, where it was delightful …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Journey To De Smet, S.D.

Like me, my sisters are fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Laura’s stories shaped our understanding of the prairie landscape on which we make our homes. This past weekend, my sister, Beckie, and I made the journey to De Smet, S.D., a place, to her friends’ amusement, on Beckie’s bucket list. I’ve been there, but it has been more than 20 …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Dispatches From Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We slipped away from domestic chores this week for an interlude in Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South Unit) along with a night in the charming village of Medora, N.D., where we were treated to two very pleasant days, warm and sunny, with a gentle breeze. We took a hike on the Jones Creek trail and two drives through the Park …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 45: Life Is A Garden, Friends Are The Flowers

The riotous beauty of the daylilies has me feeling that I’m somewhat neglecting the glory of my hostas, so today I’m featuring the front yard. As I’ve written in the past, I’m no fan of lawns and mowing, thus we’ve converted nearly every foot of our yard to beds, including the front yard. The sight in the first few years …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 44: Daylilies, Daylilies, Dayliles … And A Bunch Of Voles

The daylilies are coming fast and furious, accompanied by a fierce outbreak of mosquitoes. I have 189 varieties of daylilies. My sister, Beckie, and I collect these and together we have 225 varieties. We also belong to the Bismarck-Mandan Daylily Club and have great fun together at the annual auction. On Sunday, my absolute favorite of all of the 189 …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 43: The Daylilies Enter The Stage With A Bang

Now is the time when all of our hard work in the gardens of Red Oak House pay us with the joy of abundant blossoms and fresh vegetables. We’ve eaten the first of our tomato crop ― all juicy and scrumptious, along with fresh peas and beans. Now are the days of meals we call “nothing from the store.” Meanwhile, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Missouri River Reverie

My sister and I slipped away Thursday for a Missouri River kayak trip, on a perfect blue sky, windless day. We launched at Washburn, N.D., with her son and his girlfriend, their first kayak trip on the big river. The current at the Washburn boat landing seemed a wee bit intimidating, but as soon as we were under way, it …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 42 — A Mostly Cool June

Although we had a few scorcher days in June, most days it was cool and the Red Oak House windows remained wide open. Late June also brought the blessings of rain, an inch and a quarter in the last days of this week. We can finally breathe a sigh of relief that the drought is over. The vegetable garden looks terrific, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 41 — Cutworms Get Broccoli, Grill Goes On Fritz

Every gardener experiences successes and failures and must learn to go with the flow. Here at Red Oak House, the cutworms killed the heretofore vigorous broccoli. Mr. Green Jeans has replanted broccoli and protected the plants this time with milk cartons. On the bright side, the tomatoes look terrific, as does the rest of the vegetable garden. And for now, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 40 — It Rains!

The days continue to grow longer here in the northern latitudes as the calendar progresses toward the summer solstice, and our garden is proof of that inescapable rhythm. It finally has rained, although not much. Yet, we are extremely grateful for the precipitation, in spite of the fact that some of it fell as we were conducting our book sale. …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Walk On The Wild Side — In The Bad Lands

While life at Red Oak House here on Missouri River is filled with many blessings and much happiness, as frequently as possible we refresh our spirits with visits to the Bad Lands of North Dakota, which we did early this week, joined by our daughter, Chelsea, and Paul and Joe, our friends from Arizona. We met on the veranda of …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Book Sale

Difficult as it may be to believe, Red Oak House is holding a book sale June 2, starting at 9 a.m. A couple of winters back, I cataloged our collection and culled about 200 books, mostly duplicates as well as books we’ve read that don’t fit in the scope of our permanent collection. For a while, I toyed with the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 39

The air is fragrant here at Red Oak House because all of the crab apple trees and lilacs are blooming. Thus, it is exceptionally pleasant to work at our gardening chores. The juneberry bush is loaded with blossoms, and our resident house wrens have returned. Their cheerful call makes our back patio an even more pleasant haven. Jim has finished …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Thinking About Being A Mama

On this Mother’s Day, a big shout-out to these two little bugs who made me a mama — not just any mama. A mama of twins! Here they are (above) in their Minnesota Twins garb, which friends felt we must have. I was a sucker for Oshgosh togs. Although not apparent in this photo, my house in those days was like …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 38

That Champion Red Oak tree drops a massive quantity of leaves and I’ve just spent much of the last week picking these up, schlepping each garbage can load to the compost pile. Phase two of spring gardening also included cutting back the few perennials I did not trim last fall and transplanting those I’d noted in need of a different …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — El Paso Redux

I never imagined when my family left El Paso, Texas, in 1970, that it would take me almost 50 years to return for a visit, but it did. I was an Army brat, and my father’s last posting was Fort Bliss, in El Paso, a gritty city in extreme west Texas. Since then, I’ve been very near to El Paso …

JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — The History of Highland Acres, Part 5

MOVING IN Here are the first 21 residents of Highland Acres, gleaned from the files of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Notice they are all just men’s names, the “heads of households.” We assume they all had wives as well. And probably children. I don’t have the dates of the purchase of each of these homes, but I’m …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright

Monday’s West Texas expedition was to the Davis Mountains area in search of Montezuma quails. The Davis Mountains are what is known as a “Sky Island,” rising high above the Chihuahuan Desert and are one of the most beautiful places in Texas. In addition to birding, our destination was the famous McDonald Observatory. On my last visit to Texas, we …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Day The Colima Warblers Broke My Heart

I am in Texas at the invitation of my friend, Valerie, who has a house here near the Davis Mountains. I have been a birder for more than 40 years, and she and I greatly enjoy birding together whenever we get the chance. Here we birded together five years ago, but it was February, so I jumped at the chance …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Rollin’ Up Our Sleeves

It is the tradition for members of the Badlands Conservation Alliance to do a day of service, usually in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, on the weekend closest to Earth Day. On this past Saturday, we did just that, rollin’ up our sleeves for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, in the heart of the Bad Lands, our sacred landscape. I’ve been involved …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — And We Are Published

For more than a decade, Jim and I have been writing together and editing one another’s work. Wednesday was a big day in our writing life. Our first jointly written article has been published and the journal was dropped into our mail slot this afternoon by our friendly postal delivery woman. We are thrilled. At least, I am. For Jim, …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 37

Saturday I planted the zinnia seeds, pushing each tiny seed into a peat pellet. The seedlings had already begun to emerge Monday, and I can almost watch ’em grow. In the dining room, Jim’s tomatoes are thriving. He says these are the best he’s ever had. Outside there is almost a foot of new snow and a big dump in …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 36

Winter is hanging on here, with a vengeance. We have about a foot of snow on the Red Oak House gardens. Although we are weary of winter, we do view this as critical moisture — moisture that we were lacking last summer and fall. This is what the first day of spring looked like out our windows. Tuesday, there was …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — UND Writers Conference 2018

Jim and I attended the 49th Annual UND Writers Conference this week, where he was a presenter on a panel entitled “What’s News? The State of Journalism in North Dakota and Beyond,” convened by Chuck Haga of Grand Forks. I seized the opportunity to do some research at UND’s Chester Fritz Library, reading from dozens of reels of microfilm on …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Sisters Quilting Bee Weekend

We’re not certain what constitutes sufficient numbers to be able to call a gathering such as the one I attended this past weekend a “bee,” but I was invited by my older sister to a “quilting bee,” so by gosh I’m going to call it a “bee.” I was a member of this bee, held in the Bad Lands south …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 35

March 15 is “plant the tiny tomato seeds” day at Red Oak House. When I wandered into the kitchen this morning, Jim asked me, with great delight in his voice, if I knew what the significance of this day was. I had not yet had coffee and was stumped (I’ll admit that I didn’t try very hard). This project is …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — A Toast To My ‘Wild’ Girlfriends

I am blessed with several wonderful girlfriends, fellow travelers who love wild landscapes as much as I. Together, we have explored these places, on a regular occasion. We are of a similar age and share between us a deep love and commitment to the Bad Lands. These are very smart and strong and brave women friends. My life is deeply …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Red Oak House Garden Notes No. 34

Last week one night, I dreamed of the upcoming garden season, a dream filled with blossoms and bounty. The gardening season has begun here, in the basement, as Jim has planted the pepper seeds and tiny sprouts have emerged. In about a week, he will plant his tomato seeds. Many of the seeds we are using were purchased at Seed …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Operation Snowbound’

“Operation Snowbound: Life Behind the Blizzards of 1949,” by David W. Mills. North Dakota State University Press, c2018 (260 pages, photos) How’s this for timing? I finished this interesting new book, one of the many excellent books being produced by North Dakota State University Press, just as the biggest winter storm of the season is upon us. This is the …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life’

“Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life,” by Edward O. Wilson (Liveright Pub., 2016, 259 pages, illustrations). In between watching the Winter Olympics these past weeks — wasn’t that fun! — I read this interesting book by the great Edward O. Wilson, one I purchased last summer and tucked aside for winter reading. The endorsement we heard last year from Paul Simon …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Winter Olympics Hiatus

I’m gaga over the Winter Olympics. My family and friends know this. I have been for decades. I like the Summer Olympics, too, but the Winter Olympics, for me, are the pinnacle. Perhaps it is because I live in the north country and have dabbled in many of the sports, downhill and cross-country skiing as well as ice skating and …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Wild Lands In North Dakota: A Red-letter Day In North Dakota History

Today was a red-letter today in North Dakota history, specifically N.D. conservation history. This morning, at the Bismarck Public Library, the film “Keeping All the Pieces” was released by the Badlands Conservation Alliance and the North Dakota Wildlife Federation. Presented by Jan Swenson, BCA executive director, and Mike McEnroe, of the North Dakota Wildlife Federation, this 15-minute film dramatically captures …

LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — ‘The Prairie Post Office’

“The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota.” K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, history by Kevin Carvell. North Dakota State University Press, 2017, 102 pages, color photographs, maps and other illustrations. Box 172, Rhame, N.D. That was my childhood address in Slope County. Our school bus driver was also our rural mail carrier, driving …