End of summer joys: Dancing, Eating, Aging

How much joy do you have in your life? Where do you find joy? How do you measure happiness?

I’ve experienced the joy in living in west central Minnesota through the lens of newcomers, entrepreneurs and neighbors who proudly boast about their sense of place. This summer has been especially bountiful for good news and interesting tales.

That got me thinking about a few joyful stories to share:

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Dancing with Joy

Amanda Gehrke, 32, of Elbow Lake knows joy. Local newspapers have featured Amanda’s attempts at sharing life’s joys through dance.

How? She throws on her headphones, and dances to music in public places, looking to “shake things up and get people to stop a moment and think.” She’ll hand out a business card to passers-by that says simply “Find your bliss.” It’s a half hour show for the most part.

Amanda has been featured in local media (photo courtesy of the Fergus Falls Daily Journal). “Are you following your bliss today?” says the sign she brings with her. She has danced in the Twin Cities, Nashville and in California. The Grant County Herald said “This is what the world needs more of.”

Yes, we need more Amandas.

Joy of Eating

No matter where you live in these parts, you’re usually minutes away from a farmer’s market. You just have to know the time and day. I've come across markets in almost every tiny community. In one small town I smiled at their farmer's market: one guy sitting behind a card table along the main drag.

On a recent Saturday morning in Fergus Falls, I stopped by and poked around; sort of a morning ritual. I browsed the produce, caught up with neighbors and friends I haven’t seen in a while and enjoyed a hot complimentary cup of Stumbeano's coffee. 

I also enjoy sampling the honey made from various plants and the jelly made from choke cherries. The baked good were tempting; ok, I tempted and savored each bite. I watched Glen work his vegetable booth, laughing and engaging people...and handing a flower to a young child walking by. I visited with a Battle Lake area farm family - father and daughter - and learned that she moved back home to work the farm. Live Wide Open, anyone?

During summer vacations, hitting a local farmer’s market was always a must-do; I still have the small bottle of bee pollen from another Saturday morning in California year ago. It was supposed to help with *sniff* allergies.

Joy of Aging

Happy 91st birthday to my good family friend and neighbor Ginny. As the photo attests, she was thrilled with her birthday dessert at SteVelly’s in Battle Lake earlier this month. It’s a precious photo of someone who has given so much to her community.  

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But it does get one thinking; the aging of our region is both a concern and opportunity. So many area businesses have owners who are considering retirement. They are looking for the next generation to step up and take over their business. And for many, that business is their retirement egg. Their future is uncertain if that nest egg can't be turned over!

The challenge is finding new owners with the capital and expertise – and often personality – to make a go of an established business.  One asks....Is it easier to start a business than buy one? I don’t know the answer, but like many questions…it depends.

The opportunity is there for the right person...or persons... who can put their own spin on an existing business.

Rick ScharaComment