1. June 2017 Life Update: North Dakota and Writing

    July 5, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Family, Travel by Kristina Horner

    I recently got back from a little family trip to North Dakota, the purpose of which was to visit relatives and introduce Joe to future in-laws.

    North Dakota is a really special place for me – it’s the state in which I was born, it’s where some of my relatives still live, it’s where my parents grew up, where my dad’s farm was, where our relatives settled when they came to the US… it’s also filled with food, language, traditions, and history that’s unique to my family, things that I fear will slowly fade away as people grow old, move away, or move on. As we grow more reliant on computers and chain restaurants and the internet and brands and phones, it’s natural that old traditions and habits slowly slip away, and it can be a very sad thing.

    One of my dreams is to write a book that captures and preserves some of this stuff. I don’t live in North Dakota. I’m not personally making the big life choices to help keep these small towns alive. I don’t cook North Dakota-German food as much as I could and I definitely am aware that each generation in my family knows significantly less of the low German language my family used to speak out on the prairie.

    So my way to contribute, my way to give back, is to collect stories. To collect anecdotes, and recipes, and ideas; to capture the lifestyle and write it into a book. Someday. Every time I visit I come back even more fired up about this plan, so I decided to finally tell someone, maybe as a way to hold myself accountable. It will happen. I owe it to myself.

    I’m obviously waist deep in a different book right now, but this one is always on the back burner. It’s in the back of my mind and I keep collecting notes and ideas and stories and recipes so that when I am ready to sit down and write it, I’ve already started doing the work. My future self will thank me.

    My future self will thank me.

    Side note: here’s the necklace I am wearing as I write this blog post about my birth state.

    Rather than spoil anyone on my unwritten future book, I’m just going to share a couple of pictures from my trip. It was a trip on the quieter side for my usually loud and rambunctious family – but we didn’t come during a holiday, so not as many people were around. I missed my other relatives, but it was nice to have quality time with my two grandmas, the two remaining grandparents I have. They both live in North Dakota, about an hour apart.

    This is my mom’s mom, the biggest firecracker of a lady you’ll ever meet. She’s taken to coloring lately to keep her mind and hands busy in her nursing home, so we made sure to stop in to color with her, among other things.

    My aunt had a little BBQ at her beautiful home, and was happy to share with us her collection of hammocks. This was probably the part of our trip that felt the most like a vacation.

    These are two of my cousins’ cute kids. They gave me a tour of the entire property and even taught me how to pick asparagus from the garden. I’m not sure we were supposed to, but they seemed to think it was fine, ha.

    My dad’s cousins have a ton of property on which they keep a huge amount of the world’s remaining Nokota horses. It’s a pretty amazing story, actually. These horses are completely wild, and were on the brink of extinction before our relatives moved them here. It’s always such a treasure to get to go out and see them in person.

    I always love taking pictures by cool old stuff when I’m in North Dakota – in fact my dad likes to tell people the drive out to his old town takes “twice as long if Kristina is with, because she always makes us stop to take pictures of all the old barns that have fallen down”.

    Joe and I had to take an obligatory vacation photo by this old buggy, which is the very same one my great aunt and uncle used to give tourists rides on in a town about two hours away. They’ve both since passed away, but I fondly remember many rides in this buggy as a child. I’m pretty sure my parents used to give them $20 to drive my brother and I around in circles until they were done at the bar, haha.

    Playing card games at Grandma and Grandpa’s house has always been a staple of trips to ND. It’s very sad Grandpa isn’t around to play with us anymore, but we still always play in his honor.

    Our little trips to North Dakota don’t always look like much, but they mean everything to me. I’m so happy I get to share them with Joe now, and I’m excited to accompany his family to New York in a couple weeks to share the same kind of experience with him.




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