Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Norwegian Bachelor Farmer

Before you become too critical of my photograph, remember, for me it is meant as an illustration to accompany the words in the post, not as a representation of any manner of "good photography." Although, I have won two contests in journalistic photography and I can take an occasional neat one when luck is on my side. This photo is to illustrate the current wolf lair of the "Norwegian/German/American Bachelor Whatever" = me. Put simply, this is still another view of where I dwell at the moment. So, read on if you want the rest of the story. The music is Sarah Brightman and her "A Winter Symphony" album. A copy of this arrangement was given to me as a going away present in December 2009 before I left for Europe. I listened to these songs over and over again back then. This music has both enjoyment and symbolic meaning for me, and probably will have for every Christmas as long as I walk the Earth.

Remembering childhood & Christmas
You probably have to be from Minnesota -- or, maybe, from the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin, too -- to have heard and to understand the concept of the "Norwegian Bachelor Farmer."

Well, I am not going to try to explain it to you in detail, mostly because the details vary depending upon who is providing them. In a sense, the words are self-explanatory. What amazes me is how many of these fellows there were, and, still are, if you simply look for them. I have a cousin who is among them right now. I know of families who are not of Norwegian ancestry, but, never-the-less, who boast or tease or joke about having a Norwegian Bachelor Farmer among their numbers. The image emerges from an actual historical character evolving into folklore.

One note in background data: Germans, followed by Norwegians and then by other Scandinavians, were the primary immigrants to Minnesota during the 19th and early 20th centuries. This is when and where stories of the Norwegian Bachelor Farmer originated.
I have written four posts in recent days, but "torn" them up simply because it is Christmastime and I am trying to be nice for a few days. This is difficult for me, a devotee of "Bitter Bierce," as I occasionally point out. It is my nature to be doubtful and skeptical. We shall see how this post registers.
Since my mother died a number of months ago, my thoughts frequently have gone to my childhood. Since it is Christmastime now, my thoughts frequently are merging with childhood Christmases -- the ghosts of Christmas past. They are all good, pleasant, comfortable ghosts.
I have mentioned in previous posts that my parents were divorced and, for all intents and purposes, I grew up without a father playing an active role in my life. Until my mother re-married when I was age sixteen, we lived with her parents. Consequently, Christmas was the four of us when I was a child -- grandpa, grandma, ma and me. But, on Christmas Eve, there was a fifth member present -- my grandmother's brother, Harry -- our Norwegian Bachelor Farmer.
And, I have mentioned Harry in past posts, too. He is the one who taught me how to shoot shotguns and rifles and handguns when I was ten years old. He is the one who taught me how to drive, beginning with sitting in his lap and steering, long before my feet could reach the pedals. As my legs grew, I "graduated" to sitting on a wooden box and, finally, on the car seat itself.
Harry was more than a farmer, although he operated one for a number of years. He had gone off to war as a young man and seen a bit of the world before he came home to take over a family farm. At a point along the way when economics dictated, the farmland was leased out to "corporate operations" (the curse of American agriculture, from my point of view) and he took over the task of running the police force in a small Minnesota town. I suppose he turned into the Norwegian Bachelor Cop when that happened.
Harry was a "career bachelor." He never married, never had a family of his own. What he did have were siblings who sort of looked after him in many ways. He came to our house every Christmas Eve for supper and participation in the gift-giving. On Christmas Day, he went to another sister's home for dinner.

In a way, he had life good in that sense. Most Sunday and holiday dinners were consumed at the home of one of his sisters; he had his own house in the country in which to hang his hat and he lived life free as a bird -- working, hunting, fishing. He was an always-welcome guest in the homes of four sisters who lived nearby. There was no one to put the reins on him. He had no real responsibilities to anyone or to anything other than to himself and to his work -- but, he also gave as much as he received, and was there to help whenever and wherever he was needed.

Anyway, I had very good Christmases when I was a boy. They form the basis of wonderful memories -- including some of our family's Norwegian Bachelor Farmer. I hope this Christmas is forming a wonderful memory for those who pass by this way and who read these words. Merry Christmas ....


Daliana Pacuraru said...

Merry Christmas, Wolf...pardon, Fram!
I was busy lately trying to fix my company problems. I work today, too...
I wish you to be healthy and as much as you can, to be happy!
See you soon!

Fram Actual said...

Merry Christmas, Daliana ....

I think you always are busy, if not with work, then with photography and art for pleasure and challenge and satisfaction. I am pleased you broke away from work to visit me here today. Your presence makes the Christmas holidays very special.

I send you wishes for good health and happiness, too, and success in each and every endeavor you undertake.

As you know, I believe happiness is momentary. It comes and it goes. I sense happiness has reached the apogee in its orbit for some of us, and is about to begin its journey back to us.

ANITA said...

Sorry I have not been able to come here before now.But what an lovely post!i LOVE those photoes like this!Its, its the truth!No mix max no fake its real.You cant find real photes no a days.Everything is just a mix of technoligy and whatever..do you really have 4 computers!!!!wow!amazing!and an old type writer too!hihihih here in norway we laugh becuse the old ones change their driver licence with a such one..heheh makes their birthday younger so they can drive:))
I dont undrstand that with a norwegian bachelour..is that a man which has lost his wife or something?However..your anchestours a mix of norwegian american a nd german is just great!What blood you must have,Strong as hell i quess..

For me..Fram.I never look back.What has gone has gone.I dont dwell with it...but if you make me do..hard..i shall tell you the most beautiful childhood christmas ever..Me.Mom.(My dad was always on the seas working so he never home)I had a little dog named Heidi.Very found of her.We had much snow and out every day skiing and a lot of fun with friends!Home mama.Had warm chocolatte and all was a happy time!But enough about me..
Sarah Brightman is just womderful now at Crhristmas.Such a great voice!I have seen the Rome series..of course fake history but ok to see Egypt(where it all started .men hood.)
Now its time to have a powernap.I wish all is good for you Fram.Looking forward to New Years post from you.

Fram Actual said...

Let me see, Anita. There are many books in the photograph. They are the most important items. Fourteen handguns, one rifle, one shotgun, one television, two laptops and one desktop computer also are present. Oh, and a glass containing brandy. Actually, I do have a portable typewriter that I bought in an antique shop before it was feasible to carry a laptop into the woodlands and onto the rivers.

Yes, mostly Norwegian for me and about a quarter German. My ancestors all arrived in the U.S. between the late 1850s and the late 1860. Some of the Germans spent a generation in Russia before going to Canada and living in Manitoba for another generation before finally arriving in the U.S.

The Norwegian Bachelor Farmer usually is a man who never marries or marries late in life. One I know, for instance, married for the first time when he was forty-nine years old. Some people say these men usually wait for a rich widow with a large farm to come their way before they even speak to a woman who is not a relative. Most I have known are extremely shy men, who blush when a woman speaks to them, drink too much Saturday nights and go to a Lutheran church Sunday mornings. Remember, they are a mixture of reality and relatively contemporary folklore, and stories about them often are simply meant to be funny.

Your Christmas memory about your mother, your dog and skiing is a sweet one, Anita. One of my favorite memories also is about skiing -- getting my first pair on Christmas Eve and going out with them for the first time during a Christmas Day snowstorm.

I am glad you like Sarah, too. She is my favorite non-rock, female singer.

And, I am glad you were here to visit and to talk a while, Anita. Thank you.

Gert Jan Hermus said...

Hi! :-)
You are right; I had never heard about Norwegian Bachelor Farmers before. But I think that I understand a little now. :-)
Don't worry about your pictures. I love to view peoples personal photographs. You give us a very personal post! It gave me much pleasure when I read it :-)

I wish you a great weekend! ;-)

Fram Actual said...

Both of the brothers of the grandmother I mentioned in my post were Norwegian Bachelor Farmers, but the eldest one was killed in a farming accident before I was even in school, so I have little memory of him. I almost had forgotten him now.

When I think about it, there were more of these fellows around than I realized when I wrote the piece. For instance, here are a couple of paragraphs from an article by a South Dakota newsman recalling Norwegian Bachelor Farmers:

"One guy tells of the day he showed up at breakfast time and was offered a pancake as the bachelor farmer was chasing the cat out of the skillet on the stove, the warmest spot in the house. There are tales of coffee cans of money buried in the grove so long the bills rotted, not unlike our current economy. But I digress ...."

"What made them tick? Did they enjoy life or just slog through it? Did they make conscious choices or did all this just happen? Did they love the land more than themselves?"

In my opinion, Gert Jan, someone should write a book about them.

Thank you, Gert Jan, for the kind remarks in your comment. As I sometimes say: I write for myself; if someone else reads what I have written, so much the better.

Yes .... and, I hope your weekend will be enjoyable and interesting.

Boris Estebitan said...

Happy New Year!!!

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, Boris.

And, to you, I wish a very Happy New Year.

I just came from your blog, and I very much enjoyed your article about your favorite anime series. I hope the new film lives up to your expectations.

Smareis said...

Olá Fram,

Bom dia!

Vi sua atualização e vim conferir a postagem, risos! Mesmo sem atualizar meu blog aqui estou te lendo. Gosto do que você publica.
Achei interessante a fotografia, uma sala que contém um pouco de tudo que aprecio. Uma estante recheada de livros. Muito bom isso!
Gosto muito das músicas de Sarah Brightman, elas transmite muita paz as canções.
Desde que meus pais faleceram, meus Natais são bem diferente, mais com boas recordações de Natais passados com eles, algumas músicas de Sara Brightman me faz lembrar-se de outros Natais vividos por eles antes do acidente que levaram os dois.
Quando se é criança os Natais são como uma mágica de coloridos, a melhor festa entre família que a gente não esquece nunca mais. As lembranças são de coisas que foram especiais naquela época. Quando se cresce cada um toma caminho diferente, e nenhum encontro de Natal se torna tão especial quanto o de quando a gente era criança. São saudades jamais esquecidas.
Adorei a postagem, e do seu relato Lembrando a infância e Natal. São algumas dessa lembrança que dá sentido a vida.

Deixo um grande abraço!

Desejo um 2014 recheado de muita paz, muitas alegrias e muitas realização de vida.

⋰ ⋮ ⋱ ░F░E░L░I░Z░ A░N░O░ N░O░V░O░!!!⋰ ⋮ ⋱

Fram Actual said...

I am glad you came to check out my post and I am glad you like what I publish, Smareis.

As for the room with a bit of everything, it has evolved from an ordinary room more into a boy's room than a man's room. The only thing missing are posters on the walls of girls and sports heroes and fast cars. I eat meals here and, sometimes, even throw a couple of pillows on the floor and sleep here. Did you notice the string of Christmas lights?

As for the books, while some men use their leisure time for golf or bowling or soft ball or gardening or woodworking or whatever, I, for the most part, have used mine for reading. In a sense, it serves no real purpose and I often quote Wolf Larsen in, "The Sea-Wolf," by Jack London: "My mistake was in ever opening the books."

No matter in the long run, I guess, but, the only things that have remained a constant in my life and to which I have remained devoted and faithful are books. The ones in this room are those I sort of consider to be my favorites -- ones I want to be able to reach any time I wish. Most of my books actually are in boxes stacked in a bedroom.

I did not realize you had lost your parents through an accident. Some people have great physical challenges to overcome, others face emotional crises which batter them as a storm batters a ship alone at sea. I am sorry for your loss and I am glad you found the inner strength and resolve to lift yourself back up after enduring such a tragedy. I am afraid to think that you might have been involved in this accident, too, so I will not ask. I believe this event explains much about you and about your blog, and I am pleased to have learned more about you.

Not every adult has good memories of childhood or of Christmases with families in which there are happy times and love in abundance. Those of us who have these memories truly are fortunate. I think your thoughts expressed here about Christmas and children and memories of those times are wonderfully written, Smareis, and no one could have painted a better portrait of those elements with words than you just did.

Thank you, for your visit, for the hug and for your wishes for me in the coming year. I make those three wishes my own to return to you, as well, Smareis. Happy New Year ....

ANITA said...

Hello Fram!
Iam waiting for you New Year Post!
Its nice to read all the comments here.Sure many are happy and some are not.So iz life.I had a terrible dream this night.So i went up at 5 oclock making coffe and had myselvf even a cigarette.even i have stopped,dreams can be very true agree?Ohh boy!Well..i still love your photo..and you say u sometimes have a good nap there on the floor?hi hih nice!But you have a big house to live in?Probably a good bed?Mention bed i just bought myself a new one..a bigger one!that makes me think why did i do so?May be some change is gonne come in 2014!hahaha.
If you dont publish a 2014 post i wish you a happy New Year Fram.Let the friendship grow:))

Fram Actual said...

There should be a new post up in a while, Anita, provided the evening goes better for me than the afternoon did. It has been a hectic day.

Dreams puzzle me. I have reoccurring dreams; I have dreams which take place in the same building, but the building often serves different purposes and the people in the building with me often vary from dream to dream; I dream I am talking to people who are dead.

I often wonder about the meanings of my dreams. I had a friend who operated a laboratory in which people with sleep problems were monitored while they were sleeping. There were times I sat up all night with her watching the monitors react to various stages of sleep and dream patterns. It was fascinating.

I do not sleep in a bed. I have not for a few years. I have no reason to sleep in a bed. I usually sleep on a lawn chair pad on the floor, with a sleeping bag for a blanket. Where I sleep is of little consequence to me, as long as I can keep warm. I have slept in ice houses and snow houses (They are different, you know.); on desert sand and desert gravel; on boulders; in trees; on sandy beaches; in canoes tied to shore and canoes drifting free on rivers. I could go on, but that should be enough.

Thank you, for another visit, Anita. It is nice to have your company.

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Fram Actual said...

Thank you, Clover.

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I will try to send a few readers in your direction. I like your blogs. I think they represent what the internet was intended to be and "random" is fascinating ....

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Fram Actual said...

I am glad that you like my blog and have enjoyed reading some of the posts, Rachelle.

I appreciate your visit and your kind words, and I hope you will return in the future. Thank you.

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Something special ....