Until this past week anything resembling garden work had been limited to planting a catalpa tree and a Norway maple tree in our back yard and replacing a shrub near the house. The two trees replace some of the trees that were lost in the big windstorm that hit on July 16th, 2016. I’ll admit that three years is too long to wait to get this done but they were finally planted a month ago and seem to be thriving. Since then, like many of our farmer friends, I’ve been waiting for a stretch of dry weather to get going in the garden. Two weeks ago, the garden plot was dry enough to till up but, as soon as that work was finished, nearly two inches of rain made my low-lying plot revert to something resembling a pig yard.

But in few days, the mud slowly dried and last Friday after the seed potatoes were cut, they got planted. Sensing some sort of triumph, the momentum took hold and row after row of peas, squash, radishes, carrots and a cornucopia of other vegetable seeds were planted. As dusk settled in, those tender tomato plants that had been sitting on the backyard picnic table found a new home on the damp dirt and it was done. A quick trip to the hardware store Saturday morning brought home seeds for marigolds to plant around the perimeter to help fend off the garden-loving critters who insist on using my garden to feed their tribe. A major step in my necessary annual garden-based therapy has been accomplished. Now to sit back and wait for the weeds to invade.

Last Thursday marked the 75th anniversary of the launching of Operation Overlord, the Allied Forces’ invasion of Normandy, France and a direct assault on the fascist Nazi German domination of Europe. June 6, 1944 became known as D-Day and is believed to be the largest single military operation ever undertaken. It proved to be critical step in defeating Adolph Hitler’s terrible Nazi regime and bringing an end to the Holocaust and the persecution of German citizens who were Jewish. Although other advances had already been made on the Nazi forces in eastern and southern Europe, including the liberating of Rome just two days earlier, D-Day launched the critical movement of liberating France and moving the Nazi front back toward German soil and eventually defeat.

This came at a huge price with thousands killed and many more injured. D-Day proved to be the true beginning of the end of the Nazis and their horrible rule over Europe. The 75th anniversary of D-Day provided another reminder of what happened and the price that American troops and the rest of the Allied forces paid to defeat the terrible fascist Nazi rulers. The program last Thursday at the Fagen Fighter’s World War II Museum underscored that price. The huge crowd heard historian and author Jim Johns described the lead-up to the war in Europe, including the American reluctance to get involved in the mess that was developing there. He masterfully walked us through the time that America was drawn into the war, and the events that transpired that led up to the D-Day invasion, including the various opinions within the ranks of top military leadership about when and where to make landfall.

Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower’s plans prevailed and proved to be the right approach with Hitler expecting a landing several miles away. Jim Johns really hit home when he stated, “When the sun rose on June 6th, lookouts in the German pillboxes on the hills of Normandy could not believe their eyes. They were looking at 5,000 ships of every shape, variety and form.” He drove that point further with his description of the fierce battle that ensued and the calling those Allied forces had answered. He said, “In the first 10 hours, 2,500 Americans died, 2,700 British died, over 2,000 Canadians died and over 9,000 were injured.” The impact of that cannot be overstated. His skillful talk. which gave a lot of context and insight into Operation Overlord. lasted about a half hour. I heard many folks say they could have listened for another hour.

Afterward, Clarkfield World War II veteran Marvin Hegna visited about how much he appreciated that the World War II effort is not forgotten. I couldn’t agree more. Much appreciation goes to the Fagen Fighters World War II Museum and the Fagen family for keeping this history lesson alive. Those lessons learned in World War II, whether in Europe or the Pacific, should never be forgotten.

Shining a light on things became very real last week when the new LED lights were switched on, lighting up the Minnesota River dam in Sorlien Park. There have been quite a few oohs and aaahs since then, as the lights drew yet more attention to the riverfront in downtown Granite. The high river waters are finally starting to recede (for the first time in 11 weeks, there is no river water covering Lende Lane, the alley beneath the footbridge) and sometime this summer, hopefully before too long, the river flow will be low enough for the city’s crews to replace the heavily damaged flashboards on top of the dam. When those boards are replaced this summer, the water splashing over the dam will reflect those colored lights more uniformly and be even more attractive. Meanwhile the river and the dozens of pelicans and ducks are providing plenty of entertainment.