LILLIAN CROOK: WildDakotaWoman — Autumn Aspen On BCA Annual Meeting Day

It has truly been a lovely autumn here in Bismarck. On Sunday, our small aspen grove rewarded us with golden glory.

Three of the aspen trees were a gift from dear Sheila Schafer, as a tribute to Jim’s late mother. Sheila came over to watch Cashman Nursery plant the trees. She loved to see trees planted and frequently gave these as memorial gifts to her friends and family. Jim told her these were “big ass aspen,” and she just laughed her unique laugh. I’ve allowed a few of the sprouts to grow to enlarge the grove.”

“A leaf falls, from joy.”Virginia Woolf

Most of the leaves have fallen from the crab apple tree, and I now look forward to the day when frost coats the fruit, each one becoming a cut glass jewel.

We had a dear friend, in town for meetings, over for Sunday brunch and then, early afternoon, I mixed the last of the apples in with some raspberries to bake a crisp to take to the Badlands Conservation Alliance annual meeting and potluck. All of the food that members bring is so yummy, I could hardly wait.

After I was finished in the kitchen, Jim took over and made six more quarts of tomato juice. (Yes, there are still tomatoes and yes, he counted over 1,700 this year.) As a reminder, here are some photos of him working with the seedlings all those months ago, in our basement workshop.

He also cooked some cream cheese and bacon wrapped jalapeno peppers as per the recommendation of pepper aficionados. The last of the bell peppers he had ripening in brown paper bags have now been blanched and tucked into the freezer for a winter’s worth of stuffed peppers.

At 5 p.m., we gathered at the local Unitarian Church for the potluck and meeting, the room abuzz with friends catching up with one another and the food most excellent, including David Swenson’s famous lasagna and numerous delicious desserts. New faces were especially appreciated.

BCA Executive Director Jan Swenson gave an overview of the printed annual report and answered questions. Membership is at 350, and more memberships would be appreciated. Funding is an ongoing challenge, but we are resolute and continue to have an impact on critical issues.

President Craig Kilber presided over the meeting.

Jim Fuglie introduced the evening’s speaker, Mandan, N.D.-born Jay Clemens.

Jay talked about how the North Dakota landscape shaped his ethics and about the power of place. His travels in China opened his eyes to how quickly pristine landscapes can be destroyed. He said, “Badlands is the place where Theodore Roosevelt learned to listen,” and “TR’s time here was transformative for him.”  Jay explained the Greater Elkhorn National Historic District (his two ranches are within the boundary of this district) and described the issues and challenges he faces as a Bad Lands landowner, spending a great deal of time managing issues as a surface owner. How fortunate we were to have him as our guest speaker and a member.

After the distribution of door prizes, it was time to call it a night, with everyone even more inspired to continue the work of BCA.

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