LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — The Boehmers Of Edmore

Sunday was another North Dakota road trip for us, the destination being Edmore, N.D., and the occasion being the visit of Jim’s California cousin to her mother and hometown.

After a breakfast of sausage and pancakes with the last of the summer raspberries, we packed up a cooler and the Sunday Bismarck Tribune — for road reading — and headed northeast on blue highways.

I enjoy the hilly country north of Steele on state Highway 14, and in this area, on previous days, we’ve gathered granite boulders in the ditches for our landscaping —  crazy hard work but worth it for the beauty in our yard. This Sunday was calm and sunny, a perfect 68 degrees.

The village of Wing was tranquil, with most everyone, by the evidence of the automobiles in the parking lot, attending church services. We didn’t have much time for stopping as we needed to be in Devils Lake for noon Mass, but I persuaded Jim to make just this one for photos.

Jim explained to me that these days many of the houses in Wing are owned by absentee waterfowl hunters. As we drove on, the water tower prompted each of us to share childhood memories of the water towers in our hometowns of Hettinger and Rhame, N.D.

One more stop to photograph the “Little Red Schoolhouse” (Florence Lake School No. 3 Restoration Project) and onward we drove.

This route takes us through the prairie pothole region, and in the water we identify avocets, grebes, and cormorants. Some of the potholes are drying up in this drought. The fragrance of the newly mowed ditch hay fills the air near Anamoose. Every stalk is being cut this year to bolster the supplies.

I read aloud today’s “Writer’s Almanac” to Jim, and the report of the anniversary of the Detroit riots in 1967 triggers a story from Jim about a Navy buddy of his on the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany, a man who grew up in Detroit at that time of the riots.

At Anamoose, it is my turn to drive and Jim’s to read the paper. We listen to Prairie Public Radio, to “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” (our friends David Swenson and Clay Jenkinson), and Jim takes the occasional note for me in my writer’s spiral bound notebook.

Buffalo Lake is low and thus a little swampy. Now and then, a flickertail (Richardson’s ground squirrel) darts across the highway. As we drive through the Devils Lake Basin, the cattails are everywhere as are people driving pickups pulling boats. State highway 19 and a 10-mile causeway across the huge lake lead us to our first destination.

Again, on the radio, I particularly enjoy the day’s offering from Dr. Tom Isern of “Plains Folk.” He talks of roads and trails and appreciating the heritage of the prairie. You can listen to this installment here.

We park in front of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Devils Lake in the nick of time and linger for a moment to listen to the bells hearkening the beginning of Mass.

We listen to the lessons of the day, the Book of Wisdom 12:13, 16-19, and also sing the Psalm response, “Lord, you are good and forgiving.” Father Chad Wilhelm delivers a wonderful homily, talking about St. Matthew’s Gospel and the “Kingdom of God.” He says, “in your hearts and souls” if you are faithful, you will share the kingdom. He tells us that Jesus’ parable is a “beautiful gift we are given.”

Since I was a little girl, I’ve loved the parables, and I simply love the world “parable,” with all its layers of meaning. I’m sure the word brings forth many good memories, and lessons I draw upon for forging forward with life.

Father Chad tells us that we are “strengthened by the grace of God to do good,” and he talks of the weeds and the wheat, telling us that because we live in the world, there will be struggles, but that struggle is good for us as it builds fortitude. He ends with “the Kingdom of God begins in you.”

In the Communion rite, we acknowledge the “mystery of faith.”

St. Joseph’s was beautifully restored 18 years ago, and it is truly an inspirational architectural space. Jim remembers coming the church as a boy, attending with his Fuglie grandparents.

Now it is time to find a place to dine. I highly recommend the food and the decor at the Old Main Street Cafe (and so does, at it happens, Marilyn Hagerty of the Grand Forks Herald).

Next door is a photography shop that once belonged to Jim’s uncle. It is especially fun for me to go to Devils Lake with Jim, as his father was from there and Jim was born there.

After lunch, we take a quick drive around Devils Lake.

It was time to scoot to Edmore, for the gathering of the Boehmers (Jim’s mother was a Boehmer) at Deloris Boehmers’ home. Jim is very fond of his last living aunt. They fed us well and sent us on our way with a cooler filled with leftovers. It was a good Dakota gathering.

The drive back to Bismarck, up and over the Coteau, was made in the twilight hours, going via Cando and Rugby, with plenty of bugs on the windshield to remind us of our time in a watery region.

Jim made his first pickles of the year this morning. Life here on the prairie is good.

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