DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — My Favorite Bird

I’ve been hearing northern Cardinals but had not seen one close up until Saturday. They don’t migrate — one of the handful of species that live in Minnesota all year.

I photographed this female (above) under one of our feeders in Bloomington.

We’ll soon be hearing more of them. Both the males and females sing in earnest in March and April to establish territories and attract mates. They are the opera stars of the bird world — each individual has 10 to 12 unique song types, although some diva cardinals can sing more than 25.

It’s music to my ears.

According to my guide book, to maintain contact, males and females also give short nonmusical, metallic sounding “chip notes” singly or in a series. The frequency and volume of these calls increase with the level of agitation.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Monet’s Garden

Places I’d like to visit again? Monet’s Garden.

Claude Monet, one of the giants of Impressionism, is among Dorette’s and my favorite artists. We’ve seldom missed an opportunity to see his work.

We’ve also twice visited his estate near Meudon, France, a short train trip from Paris. Traveling with us last year was Avery Dusterhoft, Dorette’s granddaughter, who brought along her sketch book to draw scenes of Monet’s famous water lilies.

Naturally, the Monet estate operates a gift shop. Dorette purchased this reproduction (above) of a painting Monet created a short walk from the lilies.

It’s titled “Les Coquecots,” translated in English as “The Poppy-field.”

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — An Important Day

In retrospect, this picture captured what was one of the most important days of my life: June 6, 1965.

Gasp! That’s more than half a century ago. I’m not certain who snapped the shutter, although I think it was my sister, Susan Vorland Hanson.

It was graduation day at the University of North Dakota. I’m with my parents Kermit and Minnie Vorland who lived until 1991, when death took them within two weeks of each other.

The summer I graduated from Harvey (N.D.) High school, Dad gave me the keys to my “college car,” a 14-year-old Chevrolet he had purchased from a friend.

He and mom didn’t see the UND campus until the day I graduated four years later.

Unlike now, when parents often visit their kids on campus, back then most did not, especially those who like mine did not attend college. Dad ended his education with the eighth grade, a decision his Norwegian immigrant father Hans told him he’d later regret.

He did.

That’s Budge Hall in the background, where I lived for all but one of my years at UND. It’s among the many vintage buildings demolished by the university, much to the consternation of old fart alums like me.

I went on that autumn to graduate school at Northwestern, assuming I would work as a journalist in New York or Chicago.

Instead, I eventually ended up back at the University of North Dakota, first as an instructor, then, after a three-year teaching stint at St. Cloud State, as UND’s director of public relations. I took early retirement in 2005.

All in all I’ve had a good run. Thank you, mom and dad.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — We’ll Always Have Paris

“We’ll always have Paris.”

Humphrey Bogart said that to Ingrid Bergman in the 1942 movie “Casablanca.”

He was right. I feel that way about my favorite place in the whole wide world, even if I never have the opportunity to return. I’ve been there several times over the years.

But actually I do have an opportunity.

In July, I’m splurging on what most likely will be my last visit to Paris, attending the International Hemingway Society Biennial Conference. I’ve been a Hemingway aficianado, as he would put it, since I read his short story “A clean well-lighted place” as a University of North Dakota freshman.

Although I need to take his advice — I’m not as young as I once was. That is, “iI faut d’bord durer” (first it is necessary to survive).

I’ll give it my best shot. I took this picture in 2005 along the River Seine. Everyone, inluding this couple, feels more creative and alive in Paris.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — France Will Live Again

Facebook friends know I buy, read and mostly keep a lot of used books. Call it an obsession.

My most recent acquisition is titled “France Will Live Again: The Portrait of a Peaceful Interlude 1919-1939,” by Samuel Chamberlain. It was priced at $3 new in December 1940, a bit less the other day for the frail used copy.

For the modern reader, the book is an interesting leap back in time.

Like Ernest Hemingway, Chamberlain served in the Red Cross ambulance corps during World War I.

He decided to remain in France, devoting himself to photographing and drawing French villages, towns and cities, cathedrals and churches, the seashore, bridges, cottages, farms, manors and chateaux.

Eventually, he decided that much of this would be destroyed in the coming war, and therefore documented it in his book. Much of it was.

Some of the sites I’ve seen while visiting France, especially during my and Dorette’s three-month retirement sabbatical on the Riviera in 2010.

We rented an apartment a few miles east of Nice in the town of Menton and used it as home base for our travels. Thus my favorite Chamberlain drawing is the one of Menton, shown above.

At the right, is a photo I took in Menton. Notice that the church steeple is the same, although much of the town has changed during the 70 years since publication of the Chamberlain book.

Menton remains on my list of places to see again.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — California Dreamin’

Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland recently returned home from a trip to California. Here are some of the view he and his traveling companions saw while in the Golden State.

DAVE VORLAND: Photo Gallery — The Windy City

Bloomington, Minn., photographer Dave Vorland recently spent some time in Chicago, the Windy City. Dave went to graduate school in Chicago at the Northwestern University in the mid-1960s. Here are some of the sights that caught his eye.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me —Going Home Again

Here’s a final photograph, and some thoughts about it, from the recent trip Dorette and I made to attend the jazz festival in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Marcel Proust, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe all said you can’t go home again. Wolfe even used the expression as the title of one of his novels.

But I keep trying.

For example, at least once a year, I revisit the North Dakota town where I was born and attended high school. It’s much changed. The last house of my dead parents is dilapidated and apparently abandoned, with no connection now to my inner life.

And then there’s this house at 810 Colfax Street in Evanston, Ill., photographed just the other day. It was my home in the mid-1960s while I studied at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

Like myself, it shows the effects of more than half a century of time.

Back then I had traveled by rail to Chicago, arriving at Union Station and connecting to another train to Evanston. After checking my baggage, I walked to Northwestern’s off Camus housing office, hoping to find inexpensive lodging.

I didn’t make it to the long lines of waiting students. A guy with a big grin spoke to me.

“Looking for a room?” he asked. I nodded. “Come with me,” he replied.

In his car, I learned his name was Lester Welty. We retrieved my stuff at the station and drove to Colfax Street.

The house looked great. For $50 a month, I rented one of two rooms he had available (the other was soon taken by a Medill classmate).

Lester’s wife had died recently, and I sensed he was providing sleeping quarters to students so as not to live alone.

Later that year, Lester mentioned he was a retired life insurance agent, although he said his first goal had been to become a Methodist minister.

He showed me several filing cabinets in the basement packed with the records of insurance policies he’d sold over the years. He asserted with pride that he’d done more good as a life insurance agent than he ever would have as a pastor.

And so last week, after tipping my hat to Lester Welty’s memory, I walked from 810 Colfax St. to the Northwestern campus, as I had every day when I was a student.

The distance seemed longer than I remembered, and at one point, I had to consult my iPhone’s mapping application.

So I guess it’s true: at my advanced age, you REALLY can’t go home again

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Nostalgia Of Old Age

Recently I sifted through some memorabilia and found the above picture taken in 1965, when I was a senior at the University of North Dakota.

With me in the photo that appeared in the Dacotah Annual were classmates Mike Schlax, sports editor of the Dakota Student newspaper, and Harriet Thorpe, who wrote editorials.

My title was “news editor.”

I had intended to run for the editorship, but Mike, who was member of the Board of Student Publications, told me the deck was stacked in favor of Sandra Kummer, a journalism student from Anamoose, N.D., not far from my hometown of Harvey.

So I talked to Sandy, offering to withdraw my application in exchange for appointing me news editor. She agreed and became my boss, so to speak.

It turned out we were a good team.

Afterward, I went on to grad school at Northwestern, and Sandy became an officer in the U.S. Army. She died way too young. Mike, a Vietnam War veteran who later worked for Northwest Airlines, died in early middle age. After graduation I lost touch with Harriet.

Sigh.

As the Maori people of New Zealand say, it’s best metaphorically to walk backward toward the future so as not to dwell too much on our losses and the brevity of life.

DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Great Gift

My sister, Susan Vorland Hanson, has returned from a two-week trip to Norway and after spending the night with us departed this morning to her home near Turtle Lake, N.D.

Also in Bloomington were Sue’s daughter, Ondrea Miller, and granddaughter, Allison, who moved in to an apartment near the University of Minnesota campus where she will begin her sophomore year. Allison’s dad, Scott, was in town, too, on business but we weren’t able to hook up this time.

Dorette and I had GREAT fun hosting and interacting with these wonderful people.

And not only that: Sue brought me a gift from Norway: a bottle of 41.5 proof “Linie Aqua Vit,” since 1805 for all practical purposes, Norway’s national liquor.

Produced from potatoes, it is flavored with caraway, dill, aniseed, sweet fennel and coriander, then matured in sherry casks. The casks are stored on the deck of a ship to be thoroughly mixed by the motion of the waves as it travels around the world. I couldn’t bring myself to ask how much Sue paid for the bottle.

I’m saving it for October, when we will be hooking up with our brother, Dan, in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The three of us are not getting any younger, so we’ll offer toasts to the good fortune we’ve had in our lives and to the adventures still ahead.

For example, I’m thinking that I, too, should walk in the home country of our grandparents, Hans and Anna Vorland. A few years ago, Dan sprang for airline tickets so the two of us could visit Paris together. Perhaps I should do the same for us to see Norway.

As the saying goes, there are no pockets in a shroud.