Greg Koelker


“I sometimes think that the other months were constituted mainly as a fitting interlude between Octobers.” Aldo Leopold, “A Sand County Almanac.”

It is early Monday morning on October Eve here at Grouse Hollow. I couldn’t agree more with Leopold. October is our favorite month. It is a month of many memories of sweat-shirted babies jumping into piles of raked leaves, parades and football games, golden and red treetops, leaves falling through sunbeams, hunting for pheasants and squirrels and deer and ducks and ruffed grouse and turkeys, the scent of smoke rising from burning leaves in the fire pit, gathering firewood for the long cold nights to come, mornings on the Mississippi in search of a fish dinner, blackbirds gathering in waving swarms, southbound waterfowl honking over head, currying coats that are already growing thicker, canning, trips to get apples and apple cider donuts, the first frost, and goblins and witches and other candy swindlers.

There are things to do when the sun finally comes up. Coffee is on and I plan BLTs for breakfast. (El’s fresh tomatoes are about kaput.) The grass needs raking and then mowing again. Alas, we must make another trip to the clinic for blood tests for both of us, and I plan to service the beast, our old snowblower in the heat of this afternoon.

Happily we’ll be going to our nephew’s wedding soon, but sadly, the Squirrel Picnic was cancelled because of all the time and energy to get ready for the wedding. The groom and his family were a major supplier of squirrels for the roasters. I thought of suggesting they just get hitched at picnic, but thought better of it. Next year, I guess.

Two years ago on Oct. 6, Ellen had a stroke and major surgery. She nearly left me and us. She is still here and thanks to her fortitude and the support and encouragement of so many, she is doing OK. She is lamenting the end to her garden. She worked many hours there this summer and it paid off with plenty of asparagus, onions, peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, green beans, raspberries, and tomatoes — the last of which are awaiting some mayo, bacon, lettuce and toast at breakfast.

Until next time, get out — I read this recently and it seems so relevant today. In the 1930s, Aldo Leopold said, “We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve, but to strive. … The problem, then, is how to bring about a striving for harmony with land among a people, many of whom have forgotten there is any such thing as land, among whom education and culture have become almost synonymous with landlessness. This is the problem of ‘conservation education’.” Strive and Enjoy.

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Greg and his wife Ellen Koelker are retired and live on Grouse Hollow Farm near Stoddard.

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