Things That Are Different

It is mind boggling to think about what I was doing, planning and expecting one year ago for 2019, compared to all the things that actually happened and what my situation is today.  I could not possibly have anticipated or planned for most of it. So now here I am living at Jewett Lake.

We have been living here full time since the middle of July, after we sold our house in Minnetonka where we lived for more than 30 years. We had already spent quite a bit of time at the lake over the years using the family cabin (my whole life), visiting my parents (since they retired and built this house 20 years ago), and more recently spending the past couple of summers in the house with my mom. We had been thinking about making this move for years. We already have a community of family and friends here. We knew what we were getting ourselves into, and we are happy with our decision.

We are about 12 miles north of Fergus Falls. It is a nice town with a population of about 13,800, a classic old fashioned main street, an old theater converted into a Center for the Arts, an active arts community, reasonable shopping options for the size, and Lake Alice, a lovely lake in the middle of the town surrounded by public space and 100 year old houses. The Otter Tail River flows through the town and area. 

Center for the Arts
A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls
Otter Tail River
The Otter Tail River weaves through town

It is easy to come up with a list of things that are different here than in “the Cities”. I am not complaining, we like it here. But some things are just different.

You run into people you know when you are out and about in this size of community. Everywhere we go we find connections with people. Wayne’s sister and her husband, Marlene and Steve, came up from the cities for a short winter getaway. We recently had about nine inches of fresh snow and they love cross country skiing, so we went over to Spidahl’s Ski Gaard which is about 5 miles from us.   Marlene and Steve know Cindy and Dave Spidahl from 40 years ago in Minneapolis. While Marlene and Steve and I were visiting with Cindy, in comes Dave who had been out skiing with a friend who turned out to be one of the musicians who played at my mom’s Celebration of Life in Fergus Falls. I have known his wife for years through the fiber community in this area.

A perfect day for skiing
Wayne’s sister Marlene enjoying the trail

When attending an event at A Center for the Arts, I recognized at least 10 people there. That would not happen at the Guthrie or Orpheum in Minneapolis. I had the programs for my mom’s Celebration of Life printed at Victor Lundeens in Fergus Falls, a local gift shop / book store / print shop. They carry my mom’s memoir The Red Cottage in the local authors section. When I was picking up the programs, the employee recognized my mom’s name and noted that her book was out of stock. My mom’s self published book would not be in a store in Minneapolis, and employees in a print shop there would not pay any attention to the info on the item being printed or know anything about the people involved.

Victor Lundeens was established in 1914

I have the yarn that I bought from my cousin’s yarn shop for sale at a cool local fiber arts business (,  along with some yarn that I spun myself. In the cities no local yarn shop would consider selling my handspun yarn. It is fun being a big fish in a small pond.

There is no recycling or organics pickup in rural areas. We have a compost “pile” here …literally…we just pile food scraps on and occasionally turn it over with a shovel. We are probably not doing it the “correct” way, as we sometimes see neighbor dogs trotting across the yard with an egg shell or two in their mouth.  We have some waste baskets in the garage to collect the various types of recycling. We have to take the contents into the county recycling center in Fergus Falls and unload them into big dumpsters. Inside the building is a fun display of empty pop cans and a free book exchange.

At the Otter Tail County Recycling Center

Mail goes out only once per day Monday through Saturday at the main post office in town. There is no pick up on Sunday. Back in Minnetonka I would sometimes drop a piece of mail at the local post office in the evening, knowing it would go out later that day or first thing in the morning. Here there is not a better method than putting outgoing mail in our mailbox with the flag up for the mail carrier to take. It won’t go out any faster if you take it to the post office in town. If you miss the pickup on Saturday, your mail is not going anywhere until Monday afternoon. On the other hand, a piece of mail that was addressed to us incorrectly with the cabin address (different street name and number) got delivered to us anyway. 

It is scary to venture out after dark out in the country. It is REALLY dark out. And forget it if it is snowing or icy. It is also VERY quiet, especially at night. The only sounds you hear are trees blowing in the wind, an occasional owl hooting or sometimes coyotes howling. In the near suburbs of Minneapolis we could hear trains, sirens, airplanes, and sometimes traffic noise even though we were a half-mile away from Interstate 494.

It is exactly 11.8 miles from the house to the Service Foods grocery store in Fergus Falls. You have to plan better as you do not want to run out to the store every time you are missing one ingredient for a recipe.

There is a Walmart, Fleet Farm, Home Depot, Walgreens and other smaller local stores here. If you have not shopped at Fleet Farm you are in for a treat. Fleet Farm has almost anything you need including but not limited to clothes and shoes, hunting and sports equipment, kitchen accessories, every possible snack food, many different kinds of chopped nuts and chocolate for cooking, cleaning supplies, and products used on a farm. In case you need a “free range chicken catcher”, a 50 pound horse tub, or a “Kow Kan’t Kick” (Safest, easiest and most humane way to stop wild & unruly cows from kicking) you are in luck.

There was a Target Store in Fergus Falls until it closed about two years ago. People were incensed as it did not seem to be a decision based entirely on economics. Although I have been able to find whatever I need locally at one of the other stores, or online, I do miss having a choice of four Target stores within easy range in the cities. 

We see quite a few animals in our yard at the lake including Coyotes, Foxes, Owls, Wild Turkeys, and Woodpeckers. Surprisingly, we had all of those in our yard in Minnetonka so that is NOT different.

The last thing to note is that there IS a Caribou coffee shop in Fergus Falls.  That may have been the deciding factor that made it seem doable to move here. Not really, but I do love a Caribou Mocha.

On to new adventures and new connections in 2020!

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

4 thoughts on “Things That Are Different

  1. Meg, Loving your literary endeavor. I can relate to the ‘small town ‘ way. We are snowbirds for the first time in my mom’s long time residence in Sedona AZ. I miss the connection to the people most. Don’t get me wrong, 26 miles to the closest Walmart is a drag. Planning ahead definitely helps. 2 trips to Phoenix which is 130 miles one way for airport runs to pick up and drop off my daughter Laura who visited for Christmas got me to a craft store. There is, however, a yarn shop within walking distance. Would love to visit your Tangled Threads this summer. I enjoy her updates on Facebook. Keep writing. I’ll keep reading.
    Deb Franson
    On Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 7:16 PM Yarns from the Lake wrote:
    > Meg Hanson posted: ” It is mind boggling to think about what I was doing, > planning and expecting one year ago for 2019, compared to all the things > that actually happened and what my situation is today. I could not > possibly have anticipated or planned for most of it. So now ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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