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Kindness in action

The other day I reread a letter sent from a high school friend. It was postmarked June 23, 2019. In the letter, she is telling about springtime events she had enjoyed and how much she was looking forward to summertime gatherings with family and friends. She mentioned that she recently had flown to Boston for business and how the trip allowed for some fun sightseeing in Beantown.

Rereading this letter reminded me of how life was so different-more simple and sane-14 months ago. There was a real zest for living, and we could go anywhere without a mask or concern. Like many of you, I miss going to concerts, hanging out in restaurants, going to the library without having to check their hours, singing with others, sharing hugs and handshakes and visiting with the shut ins from our church.

I have always been able to entertain myself by artistic adventures, reading, music, cooking and being outdoors-just to name a few. Many things bring me joy: the story-telling ability of elders, orange daylilies growing on boulevards in Minot, clear cool raindrops as they lie on my newly waxed Jeep hood, beautiful bright pink petunia baskets on Main Street, the golden sunrays streaming across the front lawn on Minot State University late in the afternoon, colorful, tall zinnias that are all in row on 4th Avenue, a handwritten note in my mailbox, and stunning pelicans floating on inky blue water south of Max. Yes, these are the things that bring me joy.

They, however, do not replace the joy of being around friends and savoring friendships that have shaped our lives–friendships that lend a helping hand and shoulder, and friendships that pick up where you last left off with ease. This summer I have been reminded several times of enduring friendships, and even some new friendships. The reminders have come quite steady now that fishing and gardening are popular interests that people can do while social distancing.

Just the other day, Lydia and I were painting outside our home and a burgundy truck pulled up in front our home. Out stepped Bob Sando with a cooler in one hand and a box in the other. He was stopping by to deliver walleye that he had caught and cleaned, and cucumbers from his garden. What a joy this brought to our afternoon. On a recent trip to Rugby, I was handed a huge bag of cucumbers from Larry and Eileen Pieterick in the grocery store parking lot. Larry and Deb Zavada also delivered a fine catch of fish to our home. Windy Lindsey from Lansford surprised us with lovely yellow summer squash. There is nothing like green beans from the garden, which came from Sharon and the robust Reynolds farm. Thank you, friends! This proves that one is not to underestimate the power of good catch and the importance of cultivation.

I know that several of you have experienced these acts of kindness also. Don’t they make you feel good? In this time of apprehensiveness where nothing seems normal and we miss how it used to be, these acts remind us through all the changes, true happiness comes from thinking of others and sharing our talents. As the giver offers and the receiver accepts both discover that even through changes the beauty and comfort of friendship remains along with the hope of a new tomorrow.

Our recent supper included pan-fried fish, creamy cucumbers, and fresh beans.

Pan Fried Fish

I learned to fry fish from my mom who also was skilled at cleaning fish. Her number one tip for pan frying fish was to make sure that the butter/olive oil combination in the electric skillet is hot enough. Her test involved dropping a small about of flour into the pan and if it sizzled it was ready.

4 large fish fillets, which have been patted dry with a towel

3 eggs

1/2 sleeve of saltine crackers, rolled fine

2 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons of butter

1/2 cup olive oil or less depending on the size of the skillet

Roll crackers fine and place in baking pan along with flour. Mix well and set aside. Break eggs into a baking pan and whisk until well blended and set aside. Melt butter and olive oil in electric skillet and when hot enough quickly dip fillets into whisked eggs and then into cracker mixture. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes or less only turning one. Remove from pan and allow to drain on a paper-towel lined plate.

Creamy Cucumbers

Slice 4 to 5 medium size cucumbers into a medium sized bowl. Lightly salt and allow to set a room temperature for 20 minutes. Lightly rinse cucumbers and dress with the following.

1/2 cup of mayonnaise

3 to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

1 small onion chopped fine

A sprinkle of dill weed before serving if desired

Blend mayonnaise, cream, vinegar and sugar until smooth. Add chopped onion and poor over cucumbers. Allow to setup for 20 minutes before serving.

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