It could be a scene from any suburb in America. Moms gathered in the semi-shade while the kids play in the nearby pool. It’s not any suburb, it’s Wilton. A small town of 800 people along Highway 83, north of Bismarck. Life in small rural towns in the Northern Plains is pretty much like life anywhere in America — most of the time. Winters are legendary. They are rugged, but summers are intense with long hours of daylight for neighbors to gather and do what Americans do in the summer, relax and rejuvenate. Well, most North Dakotans do, anyway, the ones in town. Their rural cousins are too busy this time of year to spend much pool time, but life in even a small town like Wilton is good.
Thursdays in Downtown Bismarck is an eclectic mix of families and artistry. Kids are encouraged to express their creativity whether it is with chalk on a normally busy street now closed, or with a hula hoop overhead, or with a band that is more often found in an adult-only venue.
Urban harvest is a harvest of talent and expression. Each Thursday in the summer, vendors set up their booths of clothing and products that you will not find in the local Walmart or shopping mall. A variety of food is available for lunch or later for supper. Bands play to an appreciative crowd of youngsters, business people on break, shoppers and the band’s own faithful bunch of groupies.
It’s Bismarck’s attempt at offering a cultural mix that is normally reserved for larger cities or those cities further east in North Dakota such as Grand Forks and Fargo. Bismarck’s hard-working homogenous German-Russian-Norwegian stock doesn’t have much time or interest in such summer time frivolity. No, summer is for work in this part of the state.
Still, balance must be an essential part of a human’s health, as well as the health of a community’s humanity. Work is good, but so is enjoying artistic expressions you might not otherwise see if it weren’t for the efforts of organizers such as those behind Urban harvest.
Grassroots family fun. The ranch families from around the Northern Plains gather in their small towns for a little friendly competition — rodeo. And as much as it’s about horses and
roping, it’s about families and kids. Like this little guy. He’ll grow in to and eventually out of that straw hat he’s wearing. Or the little fella riding a hobby-horse around the bales, trying to beat the clock. He’s trying as hard to win as his older kin are trying to win the events in the big arena.
It’s not a men-only sport, or even women-only. Girls and boys both get in to the Wing Rodeo action. And no matter the age, they give it their best shot.
Something tells me, however, that the older you get, the more pain in involved. I have a feeling that these young cowboys have to work their way up from a hobby-horse to riding a mad bronc, and pain tolerance is probably a big factor.
A neighborhood game of tball at the local ball diamond is reminiscent of days gone by when whole neighborhoods of kids would get together to play ball at the school ball diamond, kinda like Spanky and Our Gang. In this case it appeared to be a couple of baby sitters getting their charges out for some exercise and fresh air.
At least the teams were divided evenly, one big kid and one little kid — and they didn’t even have to stand to get picked to a side. They just were divided up two on a side.
I used to shoot a lot of sports when I was a newspaper editor. Haven’t done it much for the last 5 or 6 years, but this was fun if not unpredictable.
Who’d have thought to bunt a t-ball?
And I don’t even know if they counted the strikes, but he didn’t care. He was having fun!