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home : opinion : opinion
December 9, 2018

12/5/2018 12:09:00 PM
Aging, work and neighbors

While waiting at the office Sunday afternoon for Melanie and Emily to pick me up on the way to Hayfield, where they were joining the community choir doing Handel's Messiah, I decided to get a little exercise and started walking down Main Street toward home. I had on my Red Wing boots with winter tread. I should have had cleats. As I walked briskly along, all of a sudden my feet went flying up, my top went diving down and I did a near perfect belly flop onto the street, only I landed on my chest instead of belly and on my face. I became abruptly aware of the limitations my aging body as I struggled to get back up.

Sometimes I really miss being young.

When we moved here more than 15 years ago and bought the newspapers, I never had any idea how this experience was going effect us. I had been semi-retired and after Emily's accident we found our resources pretty limited. We had to go back to work and find a way to be able to have Emily with us so we could see that she kept getting the therapy and encouragement she needed. We needed our own business, so we searched for a suitable one and ended up with the newspapers here in Dodge Center with Byron and Hayfield as well.

It has been both rewarding and challenging.

It has been rewarding because we have had the pleasure of getting to know so many fine people and of being invited to become involved in so many projects and organizations in what we view as our communities, Brownsdale, Byron, Claremont, Dodge Center, Hayfield, Kasson, Mantorville, Sargeant, Waltham and West Concord.

Being publisher of a community newspaper is a very rewarding experience. In the process of covering the activities of people in local governments, schools, churches, businesses, organizations and events you develop a relationship with them that is somewhat different from the relationship of most businesses with their communities.

Being publisher of a community newspaper is challenging because covering those people and getting to know them leads to an understanding of the way the pieces and experiences fit together to create communities, and it undermines objectivity.

It is also challenging because of the many ways community journalism is changing with the advent of myriad social media platforms distracting people from local media.

Nevertheless, we have enjoyed the years we have been here and have been richly rewarded in relationships through our involvement in our communities. It has always been our goal to promote cooperation and discourage competition between our communities, to work with projects and events that promote mutual economic benefits and quality of life within all our communities. That has been our ongoing mission. How have we done?

The storm this past weekend really made it apparent how the winter bird population has changed at our feeders. We do have bluejays, nuthatches, chickadees, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, finches, sparrows and starlings, but numbers are all much below past years. I see occasional cardinals, but nothing like they used to be. I haven't seen a single redheaded woodpecker or flicker, summer or winter, for a couple years, though each used to be common. There is a rooster pheasant that appears off and on, but I've seen no hens around our property recently.

I went snowshoeing for a bit Sunday morning, spooked a few deer and saw signs of our fox family that lives as least part of its day in our barn.

We do have a large population of deer. One day last week we had three bucks and several does in the back yard. I understand DNR is going to arrange for some targeted trimming of the deer population in an attempt to irradicate chronic wasting disease (CWD). I haven't heard of any CWD locally, but we do have a pretty healthy deer population, so it probably wouldn't hurt to take out a few of ours, although we really enjoy watching them.

My biggest annoyance with the recent storm is our cat, Nutmeg. She can't decide if she wants to be inside or out, so she begs on both sides of the door and under a window when she is out. Somehow she is able to figure out which window has someone, usually me, near it inside.

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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