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Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:12 AM

I was up before sunrise Saturday, getting ready for a run. This time, though, I wasn’t the one running, something I usually do on Saturday mornings. Instead, I was directing a race in Spring Valley held during the annual community celebration, Ag Days.

  • Too Hick to be Squared: Shoes with toes: minimalist footwear at its finest.
    The Clan has always been a little different, from the way we do school to the foods we eat, all the way down to the shoes we wear. For years we’ve been getting comments about our choice of footwear: minimalist or barefoot shoes. These are shoes with very little padding, meant to allow your feet to touch the ground in a very natural way so that it’s almost like you’re not wearing shoes at all. 
  • My travels last weekend took me on a highway around a good portion of Mille Lacs Lake. I decided to take that route to our destination near Brainerd because I figured the traffic would be lighter, given the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has banned walleye fishing on the lake due to a diminished fish population.

     
  • When I picked out the name for my column, I knew I’d be writing about all the strange and “hick” things we do. But so far, I haven’t mentioned the hickest thing about us: Our shoes — or lack thereof. The Clan spends a lot of time barefoot, and when we do wear shoes, they are of the minimalist or “barefoot” shoe variety, with as little between our feet and the ground as possible.

     
  • I have a confession to make about Ashley Madison, the world’s leading married dating website for discreet encounters, or so it boasts. No, I wasn’t one of the more than 30 million customers outed after hackers exposed the list of people who were “discreetly” arranging an affair.

     
  • By now you should know that my family does a lot of camping, and in some pretty unconventional ways. We’re always experimenting with different equipment. The tarp tents we bring backpacking (the subject of a previous article) are a result of that experimenting, but Mom and Dad have found many other ways to improve our camping experience. That’s why we now prepare almost all our camping food at home.

     
  • I was up before sunrise Saturday, getting ready for a run. This time, though, I wasn’t the one running, something I usually do on Saturday mornings. Instead, I was directing a race in Spring Valley held during the annual community celebration, Ag Days.

     
  • My siblings and I have always gotten a kick out of watching people try to remember our names. Because there are 13 of us, introductions are a big thing whenever we go places or have guests staying. The poor people who are spending time with us invariably find themselves surrounded by 13 kids who look alike, dress in the same kinds of clothes, and have the same haircuts. Not only can that be a bit weird (how many skinhead little boys do you need in one room to make things weird?), but it can also be a little intimidating. Thirteen names is a lot to remember.

     
  • The resurgence of brash billionaire Donald Trump into presidential politics reminds me of a study I read about a couple years ago. The research found that being confident and loud is the best way to win an argument — even if you are wrong. 
  • A bison licked a few bugs off the grill of our car and then rocked us as he scratched his neck, moving the car back and forth as he relieved the itch on the hood of our car. It was a bit scary, especially for my wife who was worried the big horns would scratch her car, and exciting, especially for the grandchildren, ages 9 and 13, who were thrilled at the close encounter with the large beast.



     
  • My family has this thing for weapons. Ever since I can remember, we’ve had toy swords and guns lying around the house. They’re something we can’t really do without. My family can get a lot of enjoyment out of a day spent outside swinging swords around and yelling, “Bang! You’re dead!” at each other. I can remember spending some afternoons playing incredibly epic Wild West games, but those are probably equaled in number by the times we’ve engaged in full-scale battles and charged at each other with swords.

     
  • There’s been a lot of concern, expressed in this column more than once, about children not spending enough time in nature. Research has shown that a typical child spends 38 hours per week consuming media outside of school. Interviews with children up to age 9 revealed their attitudes toward natural elements, such as rain, wildflowers, birds and trees, showed fear, rather than appreciation, caring or enjoyment.

     
  • A few weeks ago I wrote that we’d been hiking the Superior Hiking Trail last year and had gotten about halfway through the 300-mile trail. The plan is to finish it this year. Last weekend we hiked the first of seven 30-mile chunks of trail that we’ll be covering this summer.

     
  • Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of the United States in the mid-1800s, wasn’t an extremely strong president, according to historians, but no one is going to demand that Fillmore County change its name.

     
  • My family eats a lot of jam. It’s one of our favorite spreads, and since we have toast for breakfast almost every morning, we go through an insane amount every year. Mom has to put up between 150 and 200 quarts to last us — and sometimes we’re running pretty thin by April.

     
  • Several years ago, a student approached me about starting a regular column featuring the poetry of high school students in one of our newspapers. She was a bit surprised I said yes, because her mother had warned her that she would probably be met with rejection.

     
Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair kicks off this week in St. Paul. Will you be attending the fair?



 

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