The #WorstDogEver

Western North Dakota is a beautiful place and I don’t get out that way as often as I’d like. I live vicariously through Sabrina Ramey, Event Communications Coordinator at visitwilliston.com, who updates her social media feeds with gorgeous photos of her travels in and around Williston.

A few weeks ago, I asked her if she’d be willing to share some of her travels with us. She responded with this sweet story about her adventures exploring overlooked and abandoned places with one very special dog. It makes me smile.

Here’s Sabrina.

Alicia

All photos and words between this point and the bold comments at the end are provided by Sabrina Ramey.

springer-3
Listening for birds at an abandoned homestead north of Williston, ND

A little over a year ago, I adopted a dog that disliked me on sight. The feeling was mutual.

He was a nervous little guy; still young but old enough that he wasn’t a cute puppy anymore. And he didn’t care to be picked up. He would snap or snarl if you got anywhere near his tail. My guess is he’d been picked up a lot at some point, and probably a few times by his tail. I couldn’t leave him, so he came home with me.

Over the next year, we found we had little in common, except that we both appreciate going to the bathroom indoors and we both yell a lot when we get excited. He gets excited all the time.

abandoned-church
Circling Bethesda Lutheran Church in Williams County, ND

But there is one thing. I love a long drive any day. On those North Dakota dirt county roads, secondary highways, section line trails, it doesn’t matter. And when the road dead ends or becomes more of a rutted track than a road, then I like to get out of the car and walk. I take photos as I go. As it turns out, he loves it too.

Since spring, he has tagged along with me to explore lake beaches littered with driftwood, innumerable hedgerows, quiet country cemeteries and some lovely abandoned homesteads. We’ve sat down on a wooden merry-go-round well past its century mark at an old schoolhouse playground and watched the sun go down together.

springer-2
Taking his leash, but not his owner. #WorstDogEver running free at a country schoolhouse in Williams County, ND

He is short, but leggy. Most of the places we visit are thick with long windblown prairie grasses. So he needs to leap through it like a deer over a fence just to see where he is going. Sometimes he is compelled to investigate a field cut to stubble.

He realized quickly that wheat stubble hits him in just the wrong place, and learned to follow the path between rows. It’s fun to watch; it looks like he is navigating a maze, especially when he gets to the end of a row and follows the curve the seeder took in the spring.

springer-4
Lurking in the shadows: abandoned barn east of Williston, ND

He doesn’t always come when I call him, and he is always right in the camera frame when I do not call him. At the end of the day, when he is done running and I am done walking, we go home. Sometimes, if he is really tired, he will even let me pick him up and put him the car.

You can see more northwest North Dakota scenery and find sporadic episodes of the #WorstDogEver’s adventures on the @visitwilliston Instagram account.

springer-5
Happiest when exploring: close-up of the #WorstDogEver


What about you?
What are your favorite places to explore?
What do you see and do when you’re in western North Dakota?
What’s on your western North Dakota bucket list?
What do you think of when you think of this part of the state?
Do you think of this part of the state?
Who is your favorite travel buddy?

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

Take Care Of Yourself This Season

“Listen to your mind and soul the way you listen to your body when it’s hurt. It may not complain as loudly, so listen…carefully.”
– Dr. Belisa Vranich, Psy.D

It’s almost Thanksgiving already, which means the winter holiday season is upon us. It’s easy to get swept up in a whirlwind of family gatherings and social engagements. We might get a holiday off, but the work just bleeds into other days, so we never feel like we really get a break. This year politics dug up deep, ugly resentments. Family gatherings can be both wonderful and stressful. To top it all off, shorter days and Daylight Savings Time mean that the season of light is a little darker here in the Midwest.

It’s a beautiful time of year, but it’s hard, too. So it’s extremely important to take care of ourselves as we move through it.

self-care-candles

As I write this, the people closest to me are probably laughing hysterically because I am absolutely horrible at self-care. I have a ridiculous tendency to run myself to the brink of exhaustion. I have traditionally cut out life sustaining activities like sleep, food and physical activity in favor of more coffee-fueled work. (Confession Alert: I am actually skipping yoga to edit photos for my book and to write this post on self-care. Oh, the irony…)

But I’m working on it. And (despite today’s yoga skipping setback) I’m getting better. I’m lucky to have many people in my life who have been very open about their journeys with depression, anxiety and seasonal affective disorder. They helped me recognize my postpartum depression for what it was, which prompted me to get the help that I needed. They remind me that it is as important to care for ourselves as it is to care for others.

How do you take care of yourself when life gets intense? Be sure to leave your tips at the bottom of the post. These activities have been working for me, but I can use all the help I can get! (Seriously, please chime in. I am not naturally good at this at all, so I really do need assistance.)

Eat and Sleep
There are some of you who will read this and be like, “Obviously. What a stupid tip.” The rest of us will groan in recognition. Not every problem can be resolved with a nap and a sandwich, but some of the little ones can.

meditation-class-in-moorhead
Pause to Reflect
It is hard to live in the moment. Our culture is very future-focused and results-oriented and the very act of sitting still and reflecting is countercultural. I know I always feel like I need to be doing something. So it’s normal that we need a little help cultivating this quiet space in ourselves.

Many people find this space through prayer or meditation. Some find it in art or nature. I think it’s smart to take time to figure out what works for us and to ask for assistance from those around us that are better at tapping into this mindset than we are.

How do you set aside time to nurture your spirit? How do you practice reflection and mindfulness? Do you like to do this alone or in a group? (If you’re curious, the class photographed above takes place monthly at The Center for Mindful Healing in Moorhead, Minnesota.)

Get Physical
I’m guilty of prioritizing my mind over my body and forgetting how both parts of my being influence each other. Exercise is important, both for its physical and mental health benefits.

I’m really active in the summer, but it’s harder in the winter. So I try to make a point to go to the gym, to take a midday walk and to build physical activities into my every day life. This winter I also want to try new things, like fat tire biking and cross country skiing.

What other activities should I check out? What do you want to try this winter?

winter-roses
Get Outdoors
I interviewed the artist Karman Rheault last year and I was struck by how she arranged her work day. Whenever she got stuck, she didn’t just sit in her studio and spin her wheels.Instead, she got outside and did something physical. She kayaked, hopped on her bike, built a fire, worked on a landscaping project.

As a fellow creative, this resonated with me. I’ve been trying to do the same thing. So that’s why I still go on photo walks and winter bike rides, even when it’s chilly and gray outside. Sometimes that change of scenery and even the tiniest amount of natural light really help. Winter offers its own distinct beauty.

Unplug
These days I am both in love with and infuriated by social media in equal measure. So I’ve been imposing limits to help myself chill the heck out. I already have my phone off for long periods when I work and I’m trying to do this more in my personal life as well. (My job actually includes maintaining a social media presence, so if I can do this, you can too.)

pen-and-ink
Learn Something New
Sometimes my work requires me dive deep into one topic (hello, book research!), which can make it hard for me to think outside of that box. So I’ve been trying to challenge my brain by learning something completely new.

This month I’ve been playing around with new, artistic hobbies and bugging my friend Frode to teach me a few words of Norwegian. These aren’t skills I need, but just fun things that intrigue me. That takes the pressure off. You don’t need to become an expert, just play around a little.

What news skills have you learned this year? What classes, hobbies or activities do you recommend?

Also, if this book looks interesting to you, you can read more about it here. The publisher sent it over for me to read and try and it’s kind of fun to getting out of my comfort zone.

Create Order
Pick one tiny task and do it quickly and well. If I’m feeling restless, sometimes it helps to declutter the surface of my desk or straighten the pile of boots (yep, all mine) in the entryway or put the dishes away. When you’re feeling stuck, sometimes just accomplishing something (anything) can help.

Treat Yourself
Burn that pretty candle, savor a piece of the fancy chocolate or take yourself out for an amazing cup of tea, a beer or your favorite meal. Sometimes when we get stressed out, we can deny ourselves simple pleasures under the misguided belief that these are rewards for hard work, not enjoyable experiences we deserve.

Life is tough sometimes. That doesn’t mean it can’t also be indulgent and beautiful. So use the good china and break out the coziest sheets. The time to live well is right now.

image26
Enjoy a Guilty Pleasure
I’ve been trying to cut down on the things I own, so I know it seems weird that I still enjoy shopping. But I do.

So I’ve decided to cut myself a little slack for doing a little window shopping at my favorite locally-owned boutiques or throwing a little treat in for myself when I pick out the gifts I’ll ship to out of state friends and family during shopbop.com’s November Sale. (Just so you know, I’m an affiliate for this company.)

I’m also reading more fiction these days (just for fun) and binge watching Good Girls Revolt. (A newsroom setting + strong female characters + major Patti Robinson wardrobe envy = instant addiction.)

What’s your guilty pleasure? What are you reading, watching or shopping for this month? Tell us about it!

Find Strength in Numbers
While I’m racing to finish my book and hit my deadlines, my friends are dealing with work drama, finals, family issues and all kinds of other stresses. We’re all busy. Last Friday we got together for a couple beers anyway. And holy cow, did we need it. We didn’t accomplish a darn thing, but it just felt good to be together.

It’s easy to withdraw when we’re feeling overwhelmed. But it can help to just be with people sometimes.

Help Someone Else
After a particularly rough morning, I had to photograph a religious group and a non-profit organization for two newspaper stories. During the course of our conversation, the subjects of both photos mentioned that they knew there would always be trouble in the world, but it gave them hope and a sense of purpose to help people when they could. I really needed to be reminded of that.

Then I went home that night and saw all kinds of cool social media stories where friends had come to the same conclusion. They were donating to causes they believed in, signing up for volunteer shifts, publicly encouraging their friends and even sending notes of encouragement to friends of friends and total strangers.

That got me thinking about what I can do and how I can help. Even just making a plan made me feel more purposeful. If you have a favorite cause or organization, please share it with us below.

If you have tried the things on this list and they’re still not helping, it might be time to let the pros step in. I encourage you to call your doctor, speak to a counselor and reach out to people who love you.

If you need help right now, right this second, text “GO” or “Start” or pretty anything you can to 741741 (that’s the crisis text line) or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

It’s important. You’re important. If you’ve been looking for a sign that you should keep fighting through this struggle you’re facing, this is it, my friend. Please stay with us. You are wanted and you are valued.

And that goes for all of you. Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to read what I write and to connect with me and with each other. Thank you for helping me do what I do. I’m grateful for you, this community of readers, and for our diverse opinions and the respect that we show each other. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a peaceful holiday season.

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

Top Ten Tailgating Tips

Tailgating before a football game is a quintessentially American experience. The festival-like atmosphere of these parking lot parties is one of my favorite ways to introduce new people to the sport and kick back with my fellow fans.

And you don’t even have to go to the game to do it! You can just drop in, party awhile and go on your merry way. Last weekend I ran into my cousin Brandon before a NDSU Bison game in Fargo. He’d been tailgating for a few hours with friends and he settled in to watch the game at a northside bar as we headed into the Fargodome.

If you’re a tailgating veteran, you probably won’t need this list. (But please give us your tips in the comments below!) But if you’re new to football, want to try a low-key tailgating party, set up at an away game for the first time or just like a good party, here are a few ways to maximize your tailgating fun.

tailgating-flags

Arrive Early
If you’re cooking, arrive three to four hours ahead of game time so you have plenty of time to set up, eat and tear down without rushing. If you’re just taking in the ambience, try to show up at least two hours before kick-off to allow time for parking, walking to the parking lot and getting to your seat without rushing.

BYOB
Yes, you can usually drink alcohol while you tailgate, but make sure you know the rules before you go. Some facilities restrict alcohol to certain lots or require beverages to be consumed in plastic cups, so check the website before you go.

Then pack your cooler! Beer is a classic choice, but pre-mixed cocktails or Jell-O shots in your team’s colors can be fun too. Or stay warm with hot cocoa, coffee or apple cider. These are great on their own or with a splash of something stronger.

epicurean-cutting-board
This NDSU cutting board (a gift from Epicurean in Duluth, Minnesota) is one of my favorites. The summer sausage is from Prime Cut Meats, if you’re curious.

Prepare And Pack Ahead of Time
Cut meat and cheese, chop vegetables, patty the burgers, marinate meat, assemble the skewers, get the condiments, dishes, utensils and napkins all in one place the night before. If you can cook anything beforehand without sacrificing flavor, do that too. You’ll have more time to eat, relax and mingle and game day won’t be as stressful or rushed.

Plus, have you ever tried to prepare food in a parking lot when your fingers are freezing? It’s not pleasant and if you’re using a knife, it can be downright dangerous. Make it easy on yourself and plan ahead.

Use Separate Coolers
If you’re just bringing drinks, all you need is one. If you’re packing food though, it gets more complicated. Keep the drinks in one (and label them, if you can), the food in another and keep any raw meat separate in a third so it doesn’t cross contaminate everything else.

You can even use an empty cooler to keep food warm. Just heat clean bricks or large stones in your oven at home, wrap them in foil and make yourself an improvised warming oven.

Hydrate
Tailgating can be an hours-long or even a day-long event, so keep drink plenty of water. It’s especially important if it’s warm out or if you’re drinking alcohol.

If you’re low on ice or ice packs, freeze water in plastic water bottles before you go. They will keep everything cold and when it melts, you’ll have a cold drink.

ndsu-sweatshirt
Wear Your Colors
Tailgating is a group expression of team spirit and it’s fun to get into the action. If the game is a one-time thing, ask a friend if you can borrow some of their fan gear or pull something in the team’s colors from your existing wardrobe. (Since you’ll be wearing a jacket while you’re tailgating, something small like a hat, scarf or gloves can do the trick)

If you think you’ll be back again, want to blend in once you’re in the stadium or will use the item in your everyday life, then invest in a cool sweatshirt, jersey or a fun layering piece like a quilted vest. Most stadiums will have a spot where you can buy fan gear once you’re inside, but you can also shop the college book store or local sporting goods stores before you go.

Learn About The Game
My friend Simon once turned to me after a Bison touchdown with an ear-to-ear grin and yelled something like, “I have no idea what’s happening, but this is fantastic!” He’s from the UK and that was his first game.So you don’t have to understand football to enjoy it, but it helps. Tailgating is a great time to do it. Sure, you could Google the rules of the game, but your new tailgating buddies can explain the basics to you.

If you already understand the basics (or you’re a hardcore fan who finds yourself drinking next to the opposing team’s fans) ask about what’s unique about their team. You might learn about traditions, chants, cheers, special songs or other crowd participation stuff that will make you feel like part of the crowd. If you’re talking with the opposing team’s fans, this builds good will and sportsmanship. Either way, you could learn some cool trivia or great stories.

refrigiwear
I’m obsessed with the prefect layering pieces. This cozy, reflective jacket that the crew from RefrigiWear gave me will work for tailgating and for winter hiking and biking too.

Dress For The Weather
Fall weather can vary a lot from region to region and game to game, so it’s smart to wear a few more layers than you think you’ll need and take them off if you have to. Start with a comfortable, breathable base layer and add on shirts, vests and jackets from there.
If it’s warm, make sure your clothing is comfortable and pack a hat and plenty of sunscreen.

If it’s already chilly when you leave the house, don’t forget to wear warm socks and bring a hat and gloves. You’ll be outside for longer than you may be used to and the wind in a parking lot can be relentless. It’s no fun to stand around with a full beer and be miserable because your ears and fingers are freezing.

Bring the Three Bs
Even if you bring nothing else, make sure you pack the three Bs: a bottle opener, your beverage and a bag. Somebody always forgets their bottle opener (last time it was me!) and you’ll be a hero if you have one handy.

A beverage is nice, but a bag for clean-up is a must. Be sure to leave you parking space as neat as you found it.

tailgating-tents
Make The Rounds

Experiencing the tailgating atmosphere is half of the fun, so even if you love the people you’re tailgating with, take some time to make the rounds and meet some new friends. Listen to the marching band play, throw a football around, take advantage of games and activities for the kids or maybe even play a game of bean bags (or corn hole or whatever you call it!) with the people across the way.

Even just walking around and checking out everybody else’s tailgating set up can be interesting. The energy is contagious.

How about you?
What are your best tailgating tips?
Which teams do you cheer for?
What’s your best tailgating story?

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

Neighbors

I’ve been reading newspaper stories and first-hand accounts about a new group of immigrants that arrived in my home state of North Dakota. These new folks lived in tight-knit communities, worshipped differently and continued to speak the language of their homelands. This made the neighbors nervous, because some people in their homelands were openly hostile to the United States. Some leaders had even declared war against America.

These new immigrants just kept coming. Hundreds, then thousands arrived every year. Their neighbors felt like they weren’t assimilating into mainstream culture fast enough. Even after they’d been in the United States for a few years, these new immigrants insisted on preserving their culture’s traditions. Many still wore the clothing they wore back home. Some of the women even covered their hair.

You know which group of North Dakotans I’m talking about, right?

american-flag-and-art

If you guessed the Germans and the Germans from Russia, you’d be correct.

This group of North Dakotans, like many other immigrant groups that came both before and after, encountered prejudice from their neighbors in North Dakota. It started well before statehood and continued until after World War II. Like many states in the nation, North Dakota even outlawed the practice of speaking German in public schools.

This seems illogical in a state where, as recently as 1990, one quarter of North Dakota households had a German speaker in the home and many more families could trace their roots back to a German ancestor. These Germans and Germans from Russia were pillars of their communities. Nobody today would think to question that their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren patriotic, hard-working Americas.

But biases are rarely logical. They change with the times, with the current mood of the country and — perhaps most importantly — they change to reflect our collective fears. That explains why the notion of German-speaking immigrants probably didn’t even occur to you when you read the first few paragraphs of this story. This kind of mistrust doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It’s prompted by current events, like the anti-immigrant sentiment and wars in Europe that kept mistrust brewing generations ago. But it’s the fear of the unknown that keeps that mistrust percolating.

I’m writing a book about the history of beer in North Dakota, so I’ve been spending a lot of time digging deep into our state and our country’s past. And I’ve realized that people have an unfortunate habit of painting entire groups of people with one brush. The target of this fear and anger changes, but the impulse shows up throughout history and across the world.

In my research, I was heartened by the quiet power of the individuals who spoke up for their neighbors. Some of these folks were politicians, teachers, business owners or members of the clergy. But more often they were just ordinary people like neighbors and friends who said (and I’m clearly paraphrasing here), “Hey now, that’s not my experience with the Germans and the Germans from Russia. Let’s all just calm down for a minute here. These are good people. Let me tell you why.”

I wish I didn’t need to repeat their message that there are both good and bad individuals in every single group, no matter how we break ourselves down into categories, again today. But I do. Because we seem to keep forgetting.

I am just one person, as ordinary as the neighbors who went on the record in North Dakota over the last two centuries. I don’t have all the answers for this divided world of ours. But my own personal experience has taught me that kindness, empathy and bringing everyone to the table (often literally — I’m a Midwestern woman and my foremothers have taught me that lots of food and a pot of coffee never hurt) help us hear each other more clearly. And our stories matter.

So here is a story from my own life for you today. I originally wrote it for On Second Thought, a great magazine published by the North Dakota Humanities Council earlier this year. It’s still relevant today. I hope that when my son reads it decades from now, it won’t be.

winter-sky-and-clouds

The ends of their scarves danced in the wind. Their brightly colored tunics billowed behind them, a softly rippling swoosh of vivid violet, luscious saffron and prairie sky blue, giving them the look of a flock of exotic birds about to take flight.

I must have driven by this little procession daily. We were neighbors, after all. Yet I didn’t give them a thought until my first week back at work after a particularly great vacation. International travel wakes me up, makes me a little more engaged, a little more curious about the world around me. And this time, the effect clung to me long after my flight landed.

I was back home, back to the grind and already frustrated. The world had opened up for me, but now I was right back where I started, smack dab in the middle of a calendar full of appointments, a twelve hour work day with five minutes to inhale my lunch at my desk and the constant ping of emails until well after midnight.

This is what I was thinking about when I saw – really saw – the women on the sidewalk for the first time. They looked present, engaged, as if they were really seeing the sky and their friends and the kids at the bus stop and not rushing off to the next thing. This is a state of being I could only cultivate on vacation. I was jealous.

I wondered who they were and where they’d come from. I assumed they were immigrants because of their decidedly non-western clothing and the fact that they seemed to be walking not for exercise but just for the pleasure of it. I wondered what they thought of my city and what place it held in their world.

So later that day I called Lutheran Social Services — the only organization I could think of that might have answers. Then I asked the question that made all the difference. I asked how I could help.

A week later, I stood outside an apartment complex on the very same street with a LSS caseworker. She waved at current and former clients. I was correct in assuming the women out front were recent immigrants. What I hadn’t realized was that the majority of them were also refugees, individuals forced to flee their homes due to violence or persecution.

They were Bhutanese, Somali, Nepali, Iraqi. The caseworker was there to introduce me to one of them. She was not one of the women in colorful clothes, but a dark eyed Iraqi with a shy smile. She cared for her two small children while her husband was at work and couldn’t get out to English classes with such little ones in tow. My assignment a new volunteer was to chat with her and help her learn a little English before she started formal classes. I’ve been known to strike up conversations with strangers, so this seemed easy enough in theory. The reality was much more amusing.

citizenship-ceremony-hands

I showed up a few days later at the appointed time, with my wedding album in hand. Her English was basic and my Arabic was non-existent and I figured that showing her my family would be a whole lot easier than trying to explain them with hand gestures.

She opened the door and it was immediately clear that she hadn’t understood what the heck the case manager was talking about when she made this appointment the week before. She glanced from me, into the apartment and back again with politely and expertly masked panic.

Now that I work from home with a toddler, I realize that she was having one of those days – the kind where you don’t want anyone to see you or your nightmare of a house, especially not some stupidly smiling stranger with a stack of books in a language you don’t understand. If I’d known then what I know now, I would have left so the poor woman could have gotten so sleep during what was surely the only moment had to herself all day.

But she was – and is –the consummate hostess, so she recovered quickly and invited me in. She spent the next ten minutes conjuring up an impressive spread of juices, fruit, cookies and cake so extensive that I didn’t need to eat dinner that night.

I ate quietly, wondered what on earth we were supposed to do now. She sipped juice and fed the baby, who had just woke up and stared at me with enormous, knowing eyes. I had – and I cannot stress this point enough – no earthly clue what I was doing. I didn’t know a single word of Arabic. How do you talk to someone without words? I assumed I’d just figure it out, but instead we both sat politely on the sofa and stared at each other.

She found the solution in the end. This was just the first of many, many times where she would quietly lead the lesson. She would pick up my glass and give me a prompting look. “Milk”, I’d say. She would nod and repeat the word in English. Then she would point to the glass again and say “halib” and I would obediently say the word in Arabic. We’d worked our way through the oranges, grapes and desserts on the table in front of me when her daughter woke up and I remembered my photo album.

Her face lit up. “Ah, married!” she said, pointed at me. “Yes,” I nodded. “Married.” We had that in common, at least. She ran to get her wedding album and we sat with the black bound books open on our laps, side by side on the sofa.

She was a lovely bride, so young and pretty in a spectacular ball gown, dark curls cascading down her back. “You look beautiful,” I said. Her cheeks went pink, but she smiled as she ducked her head.

She touched a photo in my book. “Beautiful.”

“Thank you,” I replied.

We smiled, and they were real this time. We’d had a conversation. Maybe we could do this after all.

Before I left, I asked her to choose a day on her calendar to meet again. I would go back a few times a month to eat and chat and pretend that I could teach her something. Some ideas worked (magazines, movies and our lifeline, an Arabic-English picture dictionary were hits) while some (flashcards) didn’t. Eventually the baby would sit with me and I’d stay until her husband got home and we’d just laugh at my horrible Arabic pronunciation. I still think they brainstormed lists of the longest words for me to say, but I didn’t mind. Then one day she said maybe I should just stop teaching her and we could just be friends instead.

My stint as a volunteer was both a complete failure (she improved her English all on her own) and a complete success because I’d made a friend, a real one that I probably never would have met on my own. My days as a teacher were over, but my education had just begun.

family-on-the-farm

One day I talked to four of her sisters-in-law on the webcam. The second youngest served as the translator. She was wide-eyed, precocious and already trilingual. They would be coming to the U.S. any day now, she said. Her mother and father had ten children, scattered by war across the U.S., Iraq, Sweden, Canada and Syria. By now, I’d already learned how difficult it was to get refugee status and how agonizingly long the process can take. But before that conversation, I didn’t realize that refugees don’t get to choose where they live. They can ask to join relatives, but for most, where they land is a game of chance.

I’ve learned a lot since that first halting conversation. My Arabic is still horrible, but when my son is naughty, it’s often “la” — not “no” — that rolls off my tongue first. I’ve learned to dress up for birthday parties and to come hungry and to leave a little left on my plate or my hostess will keep giving me more. I know the secret spot to find the best grape leaves for dolma and how to line my eyes like a contestant on “Arab Idol” – even though the end result looks way too dramatic for my typical, laid-back outfits.

My friends have painted my hands with henna, introduced me to the beauty of Arabic poetry and the over-the-top romance of Egyptian cinema. I’ve learned that if I had to take the citizenship test that they aced today, right this minute, I would not pass. I’ve learned how to eat dinner without utensils, that some of the best meals are consumed on the floor and that my obsession with making plans is both silly and quintessentially American. “Inshallah,” my friends laugh – Lord willing. “This crazy girl, she thinks she controls time.”

The world has changed since we first started talking. Friendships have a lovely way of multiplying and I’ve had the privilege of meeting more of my neighbors from around the world at parties and community gatherings. I smile when see new Asian and African markets full of staples that are unknown to me. I like exploring the menu at Liberian, Nepali and Somali restaurants that promise new flavors.

When my friend, the former pre-teen translator, graduated from high school last spring, she received her diploma from the most diverse and fastest growing school district in the state. Many of the students surrounded by clouds of balloons and roses and ecstatic, beaming family members were new immigrants and refugees like her.

But not everyone is happy about that. Two boys fight over a girl – a story as old as humankind — and local headlines wonder if it means some kind of immigrant street war is coming. Terrorists attack in Europe and it suddenly gets a lot harder for my girlfriends who wear headscarves. Someone firebombs a Somali coffee shop a few miles away and social media hisses that maybe they deserved it, maybe the owners did it themselves, maybe now they’ll just get out of town and go back to their own country once and for all. Governors try to stop new refugees from coming. Neighbors sign petitions to try to limit immigrants from moving in next door. A Presidential candidate rallies his supporters with comments so callous and inflammatory that people fear for their safety.

relection-at-the-citizenship-ceremony

Maybe I would have been silent before. It’s easy enough to stop following someone on Facebook – just one mouse click and it’s done. I could have politely changed the subject at a dinner party, ignored a joke or a comment at a meeting. But now I can’t. Because when people talk about “those people” I don’t see a group, an abstraction, a scary mass that’s impossible to understand.

I see women in rainbow-colored clothes strolling on the sidewalk. I see my friends, telling me about their day at work. I see the little ones playing at their feet, the boys who play soccer in the park, the sweet old men who play chess and wave to my son as we walk back home. These are my neighbors, my friends, my people.

“Why don’t they learn English? Why can’t they just get a job and work like the rest of us?” Ask the older-than-average student who goes to school during the day and stocks shelves while most of us sleep at night. “I should be better,” he says, “but English uses a different alphabet. And you read left to right. I’m not used to that.” He is apologetic. English is his third language. I wonder how many languages the haters on Facebook speak.

“Why don’t they just go home?” They’ve never seen the ache in a father’s eyes when he talks about home, his garden, his fruit trees, the house, the life, the family he worked his whole life to nurture and build. He and his sons narrowly escaped with their lives, hidden in the back of a friend’s truck. They drove away from a country they loved and could never go back. It is a memory now, something that burns in him, just another thing he fought to save and had to lose. His oldest friends, his family and his children are scattered around the globe. Where is home? What does that word even mean now?

“They come here with nothing and just expect hand-outs.” Listen to the busy, bubbly woman, so vital to her family and her church as she tells the story of the day everything changed. Let her tell you of the armed men at the door. They came without warning. They told her to take what she could carry. They let her use her two arms and five minutes to carry away the whole of her life. What would we do, staring down the barrel of a gun? What would we choose?

She told me this story one afternoon while the afternoon sun streamed through the curtains. Only one of the teardrops slowly spreading across the delicately embroidered tablecloth was hers.

These are not people to be pitied. These are not people to be demonized. These are people who should be honored for their resilience and their dignity and their incredible tenacity in the face of horrors that most of us cannot even imagine. They have walked through grief and loss and they have come out on the other side of the world. And they need us now, though they will certainly be too proud to admit it. They are already Midwesterners that way, stubborn, strong and awfully reluctant to call attention to themselves. So it’s up to us, the native born, to take the lead. After all, nearly all of us are the children of immigrants too.

They need us to smile when we see them in the grocery store, to wave at the park, to introduce ourselves at the party. They know that we’re eyeing their hijab — they can feel us watching — so they need us to take a moment to show them that we’re admiring the fabric, not wondering if they’re a suicide bomber. They know that we know they weren’t born here, but they’d love for us to talk about the weather, the game, something, anything to acknowledge the many things we have in common, instead of the things that are different. They need to feel like one of the mamas at the playground because they are one of the mamas at the playground. They are different, yes, but they are not separate. They are one of us. They are welcome.

They need us to stop, to notice, to reach out, to listen. I did that once. And it changed my life.

friends-in-sunglasses

A note from me: Some of the photos in this post are from a Citizenship Ceremony held in Fargo a few times a year. If you’ve never had a chance to witness this ceremony, I encourage you to go and welcome our newest citizens. It’s very moving. I’ve talked to many people at a lot of events as a freelancer and this is the only time where people cried, hugged, prayed and squealed for joy during interviews.

My own great-grandfather just arrived in this country from Norway at the beginning of the last century. It’s incredible to think of how many of us have ancestors who, just like these folks, can remember the exact moment they became Americans.

The rest of the photos are just me and my family hanging out with some of my friends on my grandparents’ Minnesota farm. Every single one of us is a member, either by birth or by marriage, of a farm family. What a small world.

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

Inclusive Fashion From Ashwood West

Curves! Natural hair! Women who actually look like me and my friends!

This is not what normally flashes across my mind when I see fashion advertising, but it’s exactly what I thought when I first saw ads for Ashwood West, a North Dakota-based women’s clothing boutique. It’s refreshing to see a retailer’s products reflect a basic truth; Gorgeous women come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

ashwood-west-trio

This cool online boutique carries sizes XS-3X. The shop’s section is curated for women who want affordable, versatile clothing that works for their lives. There are some great statement pieces here, as well as lots of mix-and-match basics that work for the office and for a night out.

Everything in the Ashwood West online showroom is made in the U.S.A. And Ashwood West also sources products from a number of “give back” companies that help slavery survivors make a living, provide sustainable water to residents around the world and meals to kids in need.

ashwood-west-gray-t

Ashwood West is owned and operated by NDSU fashion graduate Marrah Ferrebee. I think it’s great when I can support a local business, contribute worthy causes and promote inclusive, affordable fashion at the same time.

If you want to try out the Ashwood West look for yourself, you’re in luck! This week, the boutique is giving away a $50 gift code for use at ashwoodwest.com. You can use it to treat yourself to something nice or to make a lady in your life smile.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest is open to everybody and ends at 12 a.m. CST on Wednesday, November 16. You can enter in a variety of ways, including entering through the widget above, commenting on this blog post and sharing on social media.

You’ll be entered every time you comment on this post or like, comment or share on Facebook or Tweet or Retweet on Twitter. And you can do all of these things as often as once a day, so the more you engage, the greater your chance to win!

What do you think?
What do you want to buy from Ashwood West?
What’s on your shopping list for this winter?

ashwood-west-samantha-top

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

Beautiful Bighorns: Finding North Dakota’s Best-Kept Secret of the Badlands

I love being outdoors, but I don’t normally cover wildlife on Prairie Style File. That’s not because I’m not interested, but because I’m usually not in the right place at the right time.

But my friend Jack Dura, who chronicles his adventures on acrossnorthdakota.com, often is. He’s been maximizing his time in western North Dakota and even managed to get some great shots of the state’s elusive bighorn sheep near his new home in Watford City.

Today he takes us inside the herd. It’s interesting stuff, even if wildlife photography isn’t usually your thing. Here’s Jack!

– Alicia

bighorn-sheep-6
Rams, ewes and lambs group together on the sage flat along the scoria road to the CCC Campground. Photo by Jack Dura.

On a chilly, overcast evening, 23 bighorn sheep milled about on a scoria road south of Watford City.

A dusty blue Chevy pickup rolled down the road, sending the bighorns scampering off to the south side of the trail where they grouped around on a sage flat under a badlands knob.

These rams, ewes and lambs represent a significant portion and locally famous fraction of North Dakota’s 330 bighorn sheep. The species was extirpated in the state in 1905, but was introduced again with bighorns from Canada in the 1950s.

bighorn-sheep-4
A young ram and a radio collared ewe stand next to each other as their herd grazes on a sage flat.

A bacterial pneumonia pathogen swept through North Dakota’s bighorns in 2014, killing 15 percent of the population while moving north along the Little Missouri River. The die-off was so bad that North Dakota Game and Fish canceled the 2015 bighorn season. However, the state opened its 2016 season with eight tags in three units in western North Dakota after a record number of rams in a summer survey.

The two dozen bighorns living south of Watford City are well known in the area, living near the heavily traveled Long X Bridge. Anyone curious to glimpse these fascinating animals can try a drive down the scoria road to the CCC Campground on the Little Missouri National Grassland, where the bighorns have been seen grazing on hillsides, milling on the road or in an adjacent hay field.

big-horn-sheep-3
The herd of two dozen bighorn sheep mill around in a hayfield south of the Little Missouri River near the Long X Bridge. Photo by Jack Dura.

Now in late fall, the rutting season is getting on, evidenced by several rams charging and chasing ewes. Two mature rams occasionally butt heads while the older of the two skulks among the herd, stalking a small ewe with an eye infirmity and a radio collar around her neck.

At least three of the herd have radio collars, tracking their movements for NDGF. The collars also helped biologists locate dead sheep during the pneumonia event.

bighorn-sheep-2
The larger of the herd’s rams paces among the ewes and lambs along the campground road.

While cruising the campground road for bighorns, it isn’t unusual to see other drivers pull off for the road too. When the bighorns grazed in a hay field at a recent sunset, four trucks parked on the sides of the skinny red road to watch the bighorns with binoculars and detached rifle scopes.

They are a playful bunch. Two of the ewes hopped atop a hay bale while the older ram prowled below. Other ewes and lambs jumped a barbwire fence as two other rams pursued them. One of the ewes pushed the other off the hay bale, but she landed on all fours.

bighorn-sheep-5
The herd chills on a sage flat under a badlands knob near the CCC Campground. Photo by Jack Dura.

The herd stayed together that day. Two days earlier, they were split into three groups grazing along the south side of the CCC Campground road—nine lambs and ewes, two pairs of rams and ewes and a group of 10 at the road’s end. They grazed peacefully as gawking travelers parked to watch them.

North Dakota’s bighorn sheep are one of the state’s several big game animals, including mule and white-tailed deer, moose, elk and pronghorn. Preferring the roughest badlands and cooler temperatures, now is the time to try to peek at the herd south of Watford City.

And when you find them, just sit and watch.

big-horn-sheep-1
A mature ram looks to the side as his herd grazes near the CCC Campground south of Watford City. Photo by Jack Dura.

What do you think of North Dakota’s bighorn sheep?
Where do you go to see animals in the wild?
What’s your favorite animal to observe?
What else should I see the next time I’m western North Dakota?

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

My Latest Obsession: Brunch At Terra Nomad

I’m gonna make today’s post uncharacteristically short and sweet. Go eat brunch at Terra Nomad in Bismarck. Like, now.

It’s just that good. people. It easily makes the list of my Top #5 brunch spots in North Dakota. And I don’t mess around with brunch. I’m kinda obsessed with it.

I make a mean frittata and I’m always down for pancakes and waffles, any time, day or night. If I didn’t have a husband and kiddo to cook for, I’d probably just make fried egg sandwiches and biscuits and jam every day of my life and be perfectly content.

terra-nomad-breakfast-and-coffee

But there are some things I just can’t quite master. Scones are one of those things. So when my cousin Landon and his wife Jenna told me, my friend Naomi and the aforementioned kiddo that the crew over at Terra Nomad made a mean scone, that was all I needed to hear.

They weren’t kidding. Chef Tyler’s sloppy scones were freaking amazing. And that’s really saying something because usually I’m pretty ambivalent about country-style gravy and shy away from heavy meals in general.

This dish turns all my preconceptions upside down. It starts with a heavenly cheddar chive scone and tops it with two eggs, perfectly cooked bacon, scallions and that surprisingly addictive house-made country gravy.

sandwich-at-terra-nomad

The menu is small and focused and the portions are reasonable, but not huge. The focus here is on quality, not quantity.

The menu rotates and many of the ingredients are locally sourced, including produce from Forager Farm (Streeter, ND) eggs from Nourished by Nature (Bismarck) and other products from Morning Joy Farm in Cleveland, ND and Roving Donkey Farm in Bismarck. I’m a farm kid, so I think it’s great when I can support a local business and local agriculture at the same time.

Everything at Terra Nomad is fresh and expertly prepared. Naomi tried this smoothie bowl, which looks pretty darn lovely as well.

terra-nomad-granola

The coffee (sourced from Four Barrel Coffee out of San Francisco) was exactly how I like it — hot, black and strong. Terra Nomad offers tea and several espresso drinks as well (I’m coming back for you, lavender latte), and a rotating selection of goodies in the bakery case.

There’s also a concept store featuring high end clothing in the back and a few artfully curated gift items and books up front. The whole atmosphere is clean, minimal and mellow. There’s not a lot of seating available, but this is the kind of place where folks scoot together at a long table and people help point out open tables.

I really should show you more photos of the gifts and the clothing you can buy. But I won’t. I’m just gonna show you more food. Because I can. And because it really is that good.

terra-nomad-biscuits-and-gravy

Terra Nomad
514 East Main Avenue
Bismarck, ND
701-751-2070

What do you think?
What do you like at Terra Nomad?
Which local farms do you support?
What’s your all-time favorite brunch food?

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

5 Reasons To Go To A Hockey Game At UND

Confession Alert: I live just minutes away from the University of North Dakota, one of the top hockey schools in the nation. But until last year, I’d never been to a game. I finally remedied the situation last fall.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. Here are five reasons why you should totally check out a UND hockey game when you’re in Grand Forks — or in North Dakota in general.

und-hockey

The Atmosphere Is Electric
Even if you’re not really into sports, you’re going to have fun at UND Hockey game. From the everybody-on-their-feet intro to singing along with The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” after every goal (which is also played after goals at Chicago Blackhawks games), there’s lots of pageantry and crowd participation to draw you in. Just follow the fans’ lead and you’ll fit in just fine.

UND fans are fiercely loyal and committed. Everybody (and I mean everybody) comes dressed in green and white, so if you’re lucky enough to score tickets, wear team colors to fit in. (You can buy new Fighting Hawks gear throughout the arena if you forget.)

A word about that logo: The Fighting Hawks mascot and logo are new and many UND fans are…still adjusting. It’s gonna take a while.

You Can Watch Future Pros
Over 250 UND Hockey alumni have gone pro, including 13 this season in the NHL alone. (There are tons of other alumni playing and coaching in leagues around the world.) So it’s practically guaranteed that somebody you watch on the ice will be playing pro hockey one day.

und-hockey-fans

Ralph Englestad Area is Gorgeous
The Fighting Hawks play at the Ralph Engelstad Arena (a.k.a. The Ralph), which is more of a shrine to hockey than a simple arena. The 400,000 square foot space cost over 104 million dollars to build and boasts concourse floors made of granite and leather and cherry wood seats. I’ve heard people say the interior is nicer than professional hockey arenas they’ve visited.

There’s not a bad seat in the house. If you sit in the club lounges on the north and south sides of The Ralph, you can get in-seat beverage service or sip your drink at the longest freestanding bars in the state.

They Win — A Lot
The UND Hockey program has won eight Division I NCAA titles (including the 2015-2016 title) as well as 17 conference titles. The team wins consistently (and has a winning record again so far this season), so when you show up for a game, you have a better than average chance witnessing a victory.

Score Some Stellar Game Food
From bacon cheeseburgers to chicken wraps to pizza, you can try a little bit of everything at The Ralph. I recommend a grinder from the hometown favorite and UND institution, Red Pepper (named “Best Late Night Eats” by “Esquire” magazine), or a snack from the seriously addictive Canadian chain, Tim Hortons.

What about you?
What do you love about UND hockey?
What else should fans check out when they’re in town?

und-hockey-ushers

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

Artists Connect At Creative Social Hour

I’ve consistently been impressed with the art scene in Minot, North Dakota. This prairie city isn’t large, but it boasts more than its fair share of creative people and artistic outlets. Minot has a symphony, a thriving live music scene and several successful fashion designers. Plus. there’s a local jewelry designer, an indie bookstore and handful of museums and art galleries in its downtown district.

This is a place where I can snap photos of public art and the discuss the local punk scene with my bartender. That kind of art/life integration and community support is an incredible resource for artists and innovators. And now there’s a new way for Minot creatives to connect. It combines two things I adore — collaborating with other artists and a theme party — into one very cool event. I’ll let Tori from Tori Dany Designs tell you more about it.

Here’s Tori!
– Alicia

The words and images below are provided by Tori Srey.

creative-social-hour-nov-4-2016

Calling all creative individuals in Minot, ND! We know there is a lot of hidden talent here in the city. The second Creative Social Hour hosted by 62 Doors Gallery is on Friday, November 4th at 8 PM.

This is an opportunity for community members to network and share creative visions for Minot. It is open to the public and will accept free will donations to support the MSU Broadcasting Department.

creative-social-hour-fashion-music-art

Creative Social Hour is a social networking group on Facebook founded by Tori Srey, a local fashion designer and style blogger. The group of artists from the Minot area share creative work, connect for advice and tips, and collaborate on projects.

The CREATIVE SOCIAL HOUR Mixer will be 20s Flapper themed. So dress fancy and look dapper. Be ready to mix and mingle with other creatives to talk ideas, goals, and life. Bring business cards. The night will be filled with live entertainment, from singing to DJs. There will also be live painting, a photobooth, live snapchat filter, food and drinks.

creative-social-hour

So if you’re an artist, musician, producer, fashionista, model, designer, photographer, videographer, blogger, or just want something to do… We’ll see you NOVEMBER 4TH at 8 PM. Location is 62 DOORS GALLERY.
If you have any questions, contact Tori Srey at connect@toridanydesigns.com.

What do you think?
What do you create? Give yourself (and your website!) a shout-out in the comments below!
What kind of support do you think creative people need?
What artistic events in Minot (or in your own neighborhood) do you love?
What are the biggest challenges that artists and creative people face?
How can cities and organizations help artists thrive?

creative-social-hour-flyer

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved

A Walk in Autumn

“It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”
– Diana Gabaldon, “Outlander”

It’s been a stunning fall, but it’s been an unusual one for me. I’ve been spending more time inside than usual, as I push to get the second draft of my North Dakota beer book done by the end of the month.

fiery-fall-leaves

This is the time of year when my social media feeds are full of photos of fall foliage tours and autumn hikes and beautiful nature photography. Honestly, I’ve been a little jealous. That’s ridiculous, I know, but being homebound is a little unusual for me and the fear of missing out is real when you’re talking about fall colors. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

So I’ve been getting my fall colors fix closer to home this year by taking long walks through my city. Because I couldn’t go far, I decided to watch closely. And it’s made me see my quiet West Fargo neighborhood with new eyes.

I’ve seen the trees ablaze and watched the colors change day by day. I’ve spotted fall colors I didn’t know existed, like deep magenta and and an arresting violet. I’ve stood still and listened to the sound of the wind in the trees and watched the sun light up a perfect leaf in the quiet moments before sunset.

purple-and-magenta-fall-leaves

Nature is amazing, whether you’re exploring in a State Park or strolling in your own backyard. These walks have made me love fall even more.

So I’ll leave you today with some lovely autumn thoughts and poems from other writers and thinkers who’ve also found themselves pondering quiet things on crisp fall days.

yellow-fall-leaves

“It was one of those sumptuous days when the world is full of autumn muskiness and tangy, crisp perfection: vivid blue sky, deep green fields, leaves in a thousand luminous hues. It is a truly astounding sight when every tree in a landscape becomes individual, when each winding back highway and plump hillside is suddenly and infinitely splashed with every sharp shade that nature can bestow – flaming scarlet, lustrous gold, throbbing vermilion, fiery orange.”
– Bill Bryson, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away”

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus

fall-leaf-detail

“I am made for autumn. Summer and I have a fickle relationship, but everything about autumn is perfect to me. Wooly jumpers, Wellington boot, scarves, thin first, then thick, socks. The low slanting light, the crisp mornings, the chill in my fingers, those last warm sunny days before the rain and the wind. Her moody hues and subdued palate punctuated every now and again by a brilliant orange, scarlet or copper goodbye. She is my true love.”
– Alys Fowler

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise.”
– George Eliot, from a letter to Miss Lewis, Oct. 1, 1841, “George Eliot S Life, as Related in Her Letters and Journals”

fall-leaves-before-and-after

“After the keen still days of September, the October sun filled the world with mellow warmth…The maple tree in front of the doorstep burned like a gigantic red torch. The oaks along the roadway glowed yellow and bronze. The fields stretched like a carpet of jewels, emerald and topaz and garnet. Everywhere she walked the color shouted and sang around her…In October any wonderful unexpected thing might be possible.”
– Elizabeth George Speare, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
– Jim Bishop

yellow-leaves-blue-sky

“And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days…”
– Dylan Thomas, “Collected Poems”

“Or maybe spring is the season of love and fall the season of mad lust. Spring for flirting but fall for the untamed delicious wild thing.”
– Elizabeth Cohen, “The Hypothetical Girl”

fall-leaves-looking-up

You won’t miss a single post when you subscribe to Prairie Style File. Just look for the “Follow Prairie Style File” sign-up on the right side of the homepage or the bottom of the screen if you’re on a mobile device.  Or follow Prairie Style File on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on Snapchat as PrairieStylFile.

Tag your pics and travel tips #PrairiePeople and #PrairiePlaces on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. You could inspire an upcoming post on Prairie Style File. Prairie Style File is curated by Alicia Underlee Nelson. All rights reserved