Twenty-six years ago, Mr and Ms X were offered a teaching exchange position. They had applied for a big city in the USA however what was offered was a small town,Glenwood in Minnesota. The debates were few as they both knew that different experiences were what drew them to this opportunity in the first place. So they packed up their kids, farewelled their families and friends and set off on this adventure of a lifetime.
After visits in 1995, 2005 and 2009, the timing seemed right for a return. So what did these two get up to Whilst they were there?
- Glenwood is a town that makes a ‘big entrance’ but in a quiet way. Once you see that Sauk Centre sign and turn off that highway, it won’t be long until that lake appears over the hill. Lake Minnewaska to be precise! Driving down the Main Street it appeared that not a lot had changed on the surface however once you dug a bit you could soon see that progress didn’t bypass the town. A new Glenwood State Bank was receiving its finishing touches and the drug stores that stood opposite were no longer there. Tom’s supermarket, the Grog Shop, The Gingerbread Cafe and A&W were still standing tall.
- The H family kindly offered their basement for the 2 Aussies and home for the next 10 days was under the stairs, or ‘down under’ as it would soon become known. Egg bakes, lemon bread, lefse, bars, cinnamon rolls, chicken and wild rice soup and white chilli chicken soon provided both old memories and new tastes.
- The telephone tree had been working overtime with news getting out that those Aussies were back and there was no other place BUT one of the old stomping grounds, the Lakeside that would seem more appropriate. So a gathering on a Friday night reminiscing and seeing all the familiar faces was definitely a highlight. There was Nancy, Steve, Linda, Dean, LuAnne and Nicky, Dick S and Irma, Jon and Mary, Dick C and Diane, Debbie and , Dave and Tammy, Julie and Mitch, Bruce, Judy, Jim and Lynette, Karen and Art, Mary J, Julie and Jeff and Clarice. To see Dorothy the former Noordgard Elementary principal there also was great.
- There was Lunch at the Lakeside with Lina E who had been so so good to Mr and Ms X in the past. A tour of the town ensued to cap off a great afternoon.
- A wine or two with LuAnne was like Ms X and she had not been apart all those years. Conversation and laughter flowed easily, not to mention advice on decorating for the Christmas season.
- Late night ‘Black Friday’ shopping as well as a couple of visits to the Alexandria Mall (an old stomping ground😉) was also part of the plans and got ticked off.
- Visits to both Ms H and Mr S’s classrooms to take a session on Australia with kindergarteners and 4th graders
- A visit to a winery to sample Minnesotan wines (yes, grapes are really grown there) with a James-Taylorishsinger whilst Minnesotan wedding venues were explored.
And then there was Thanksgiving shared with the Mr and Mrs H and their adult children and spouses and the grandchildren, Mrs H’s mum and sister and her family. And of course 2 Aussies. There was the national tradition of watching the Thanksgiving NFL game, made extra special with a Vikings’ win. There was turkey, mashed potato and gravy, corn, jello salad, broccoli salad, dressing, pumpkin and apple pies, cheesecake and pavlova.
Then there were leftovers!
Our visit seemed a long one (just ask one of the volunteers at one of the school) but then in a blink of an eye it was over! Glenwood delivered. Mr and Mrs H were gracious and fun hosts.
There were tears as usual as the Aussies left, with some planning for an Alaskan trip for those who are game. So it’s goodbye from the people who had lived down under the stairs.