This morning, after I served guests breakfast, Dick and I left for St. Cloud. I spent quite a chunk of time there during my college years, so I came to love the city. The Good Earth Co-op for homemade soup and a chunk of whole grain bread, followed by a leisurely stroll through each aisle to add items to my cart that I do not have available to me at the three health food stores in Brainerd, is always a must. Today I brought home pluots (plum and apricot cross), a heavenly fragrant herbal orange spice tea, organic "sunny fruit slices" (like candy orange slices except they come in many different fruity flavors and are mini bite-size pieces) that are always so fresh, 4 lbs of buffalo meat which I can get at our Brainerd Farmers Market but only one day a month and sometimes I'm not able to make it in that day, a little chunk of nitrite-free hormone-free antibiotic-free ham to slice and brown a little for breakfast alongside deep-orange yolked eggs that only come from free range hens that can eat bugs, worms, seeds, and other naturally occurring outdoor things... I can't wait for breakfast, and 6 ears of organically-grown sweet corn.
Leaving the co-op, we headed down Division St. toward Waite Park for our annual stop at the Great Harvest Bread Company for their Pumpkin Swirl Bread and Cinnamon Swirl Bread. Although the Cinnamon Swirl is available year-round, the Pumpkin Swirl is only available September through Thanksgiving. To see the building that the bakery is housed in is worth the trip alone. To truly appreciate its architecture, you need to realize that it is located in a large city along a busy street... not out in a field 20 miles from the nearest town or even in a town with a population of say 35.
Next stop was Plato's Closet that I had learned of upon asking a Good Earth Co-op employee and a customer there where I could find thrift shops. They both suggested Plato's Closet, Goodwill, and Savers... all on Division St. in close proximity to each other. Since Dick was accompanying me on this road trip, I knew I must choose just one of the three. He's patient... to a point. Plato's Closet it was where I found a warm quilted fleece-lined winter jacket.
We wanted to spend a good portion of this pre-autumn day traveling country roads so, as we worked our way back home to Brainerd without a definite route in mind, we ended up in the town of St. Stephen. A longtime friend, Marguerite, has a sister, Georgia, that worked as a teacher for years at the elementary school there, so I wanted to search it out since I'd never seen it before... heck, I've never even been to St. Stephen. Taking a few wrong turns... the town is about the size of Pillager (Minnesota) where I taught... we asked for directions and learned that the school had closed about three years ago. The students now attend school in Sartell, a town next to St. Cloud. The building was renovated into apartments. Isn't this just the cutest school building? My friend's sister had taught 1st grade for many years then 3rd grade. She was the only teacher at each of those grade levels and she had somewhere like 13 students.
The guy standing by the truck in the photo is an apartment renter. After chatting with him, I learned that there are 8 apartments in the entire building. One renter has the entire upper floor residing in a 3-bedroom apartment. The basement has two apartments and the first floor has 5.
The paned door leads up to the large top floor apartment. It was easy to conjure up images of the bustle of activity when school was in session. I wish I would have taken a photo of the original long row of coat hooks still attached to the wall down the first floor hallway. It would have been fun if blackboards had been left intact on the walls but the resident I talked to said they were not. Sad.
A farmer near Pierz was raking his hay into rows to prepare it for baling.
A simple but fun day of adventures... just the way I like it.