Chet Ringwall in the Paper

The Minot Daily News ran a big interview with my grandpa from my birth-fathers side of the family (click here to read it). They keep referring to him as Chester but I never heard him called that once, he's always been Chet. My fondest memories of Chet and the farm were of winter and riding on a real, honest-to-goodness sleigh that he had restored behind a magnificent pair of horses. I also remember building a snowman in the entryway of the farmstead (I figured it was too cold outside), chasing chickens around in the summer and staring at the goat herds with the dogs. It's amazing how stuff like that still sits deep in your heart and head so many years later.

This interview is one of a number of pieces I've read in recent months about the part of the country I spent some of my earliest years in. An entire way of life is disappearing in front of us, and a lot of people probably don't even know it. All of the stereotypes of rural North Dakota are essentially true. It's bitterly cold and nothing for scenery. But the people are amazing and the roots run very deep. I remember on a regular basis going to the cafe with my other Grandpa, Ardell, in Lignite, ND (I am completely stunned to find that Lignite has a web page, wow! To give you an idea of the size of the town, this is the whole phone book.) and sitting at the counter with the other men. There is nothing like that in the cities that the majority of us live in.

I hope that I will have the opportunity to bring my children, and even their children, back to this part of the world and tell them about it.