Sunday, December 5, 2010

shortening days are full days

Burrr, it is cold today. But happily the sun had dispersed all the clouds by the time we set off for an Old-Fashioned Christmas at Norskedalen Nature and Heritage Center in Coon Valley. Now Coon Valley is one of the loveliest little towns just at the bottom of a deep downhill run of Rt. 14 northwest of Viroqua.  You have to admit the scenery alone is worth a drive on a frigid, snowy Sunday in December.
We had no idea what to expect of the center or the event. We began by walking across a wooden bridge to a recreation of the Bekkum Homestead, buildings moved from their original location and restored as part of the living museum here.

We were greeted by a lady who began by telling us of the tradition of putting the family Christmas tree in the middle of the parlor so everyone could walk around it enjoying it from every perspective. She later sat down and tried her best to get this lovely reed organ to play Christmas carols. It WAS very cold in the room despite the wood fire in the very large wood stove, but try as she might pedaling away, very few actual musical tones were produced.

More successful at her endeavors was the sweet lady in the kitchen of this home, making lefse (Norwegian potato flatbread) and obviously at home on a big old wood fired cook stove.
The room smelled marvelously, not because of the rather bland lefse,  but because this lady was also cooking an enormous ham to take home for her dinner. It was from her own hog at her own farm. As we chatted we learned that it was her husband and her horses that were giving the wagon rides. Before we left to take a ride I took a moment to capture the simple magic of crocheted snowflakes in the homestead's parlor windows.
And now for a quiet ride across the snow and a chance encounter with some nice folks from Viroqua!
Cold, cold, cold it was but the company was warm. A young woman, her husband and 2 small children got on the wagon just after we did. We began to chat and I mentioned that I thought she was wearing a hat by my new friend Amy. Yes! She was a good friend of Amy's. I only recognized the hat's design because I had seen Amy's hats at the Holiday Faire the day before. This young woman and her husband are owners of Kickapoo Coffee! We had a nice chat with them and before we knew it the ride was done!

We spent a bit of time walking to some of the outbuildings and found displayed in the barn the tradition of giving Christmas gifts to the farm elf who keeps evil spirits away all year.

I chatted for a bit with a sweet old chap, Monroe Johnson,who had his Acanthus carvings on display in a tiny log home nearer to the visitor center. His carvings were very reminiscent of rosemaling.
In the visitor center Santa was sitting in a sleigh talking with children and posing for pictures. Down the hall people were eating and listening to the music of an accordian. I did not see the musician but Anne did, a little old fellow enjoying himself greatly. I had moved down the hall in the other direction and spoke for quite a while with Hjordis Helgestad who was displaying her gorgeous Hardanger work. This is Norwegian embroidery named for the town of its origin.
After leaving the center we drove into Coon Valley and stopped in Donna's Daughters where Anne bought the rose edged "silver" tray repurposed into a chalk board that she had seen there on our first visit this autumn. Then we stopped in Dent Bent and Beyond, a shop just down the street where I bought a Christmas tree stand, 2 brass bells for my collection, an absolutely adorable smocked jumpsuit, overalls and a denim jumper for my new grand niece all for the sum of $15.32. Anne bought two boxes of tea and a vintage table cloth for $2.96!
On the way home we discovered that Ole and Lena's in downtown Westby was closed so we motored on home for a late lunch. Anne decided it was a good sunny day for building her first snow figure, though the snow was not of the good packing variety today.

Her poor chilly fingers couldn't open the sipping chocolate canister when she got back inside! But she was able to catch our newest diner at the feeding station.
This fellow did NOT want to share! It was Dovey who called our attention to the feeder.
After warming up Anne worked on her new crochet bracelets and played fetch with Dovey. Poor Dovey was so pooped she fell sound asleep as we were working on our blogs and making dinner. Fortunately we were able to enjoy a lovely sunset today after such a fine Sunday.

While we're working on our blogs we're also talking with our husbands via Skype. I'm so glad for the technology of the day. I cannot imagine the isolation without it.
So that's it for today. We're about to settle down with our afghans and tea and a seasonal movie. For a short sunlight day it has been a full one and quite fine, quite fine.


  1. I love those photos of the crocheted snowflakes in the windows!

  2. I feel like I've entered another world when I read your blog, Sharon. How fortunate I am to have found you and Anne through "Art Every Day Month"!
    I love your new blog header, reading about your adventures at the nature and heritage center and getting a glimpse into country life.
    Hope you are having a cozy week, despite the cold!

  3. Judy, your warm my heart with your comments.
    Anne, lets make some for our windows!