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An aspiring Snowbird

Monday, July 6th, 2009

CANNON FALLS, MN – Summer vacations to my native land of Minnesota always end in a clash of colors and temperatures. My latest trip home to California was no different. From the runway at Minneapolis / St. Paul Airport, my US Airways airbus jettisoned quickly to 30,000 feet.

And as I gazed down at the gently rolling Minnesota landscape below me, the earth appeared as a geometric pattern of squares and rectangles. These patterns – signifying vast acres of farms and ranches – were covered with alfalfa, corn, soybeans and trees. Lots of trees. And all this lush vegetation, watered from a summer of plentiful rainfall, shone a dark, vibrant green.

That’s the green of my vacation. A green that vanished when I landed four hours later in Palm Springs. At this city known for its hellish summer heat, the view is uninspiring. For as far as the eye can see the landscape is covered with sickly looking shrubbery, dead grass and weeds, colored a pitifully dull yellowish-brown. It’s a most lifeless view for someone fresh from Minnesota.

Oh, Minnesota how I already miss your green and temperate beauty.

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Tractors on parade

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Photos By Bob Otto

CANNON FALLS, MN – The Cannon Falls 94th annual 4th of July parade drew about 7,000 spectators to the little town of 3,800 just 28 miles southeast of St. Paul.

I am one of those happy spectators who enjoys parades. My brother John not so much. At the crack of dawn he straddled his motorcycle and hightailed it out of town to escape the hoards of visitors who would soon overtake most of the streets and available parking spaces along the parade route. And the parade route passed too close to his otherwise quiet street for his comfort.

I on the other hand with camera and lawn chair in hand, walked the one block from John’s home to Minnesota Street to pick out the best spot to see and shoot the parade.

As a reporter and photographer, I’ve covered parades in Yucaipa, Fontana, Hemet, San Jacinto, Beaumont, and Banning, California over the past 10 years.

But none compares with little Cannon’s parade. Why? Tractors. I grew up on a farm. I learned to drive a tractor when my feet could barely reach the pedals at the age of nine. John Deere’s, Massey Harris, Allis-Chalmers, Farmalls, Minneapolis Moline, Case, Oliver, Ford – I love them all.

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