Leave the light on for us
Resembling multicolored rhinestone broaches resting on black velvet, they shine in the darkness of Highway 2. They have been draped and fashioned to glitter with a colorful constellation of holly red, emerald green, sunburst yellow, and a patchwork of blues. They break the bleakness of infinite night and sparkle like a jeweler’s showcase window. Sometimes they appear on the horizon colorfully embroidered onto the cosmic of darkness. You cannot drive west of Rugby on Highway 2 or east of Towner and not embrace the radiance of lighting that sparkles by Berwick at the home of Warner and Dallas Knudson.
For several years, these colorful Christmas lights have sprinkled merriment to passersby. Joyful discoveries such as these can certainly perk up a mundane night drive. Several times while visiting with Dallas and Warner, I have shared with them the joy these little colorful confetti-like flecks have brought to me. Of course, I adore the fact that they leave them glowing well past Christmas. On a recent Amtrak ride, our conductor looked out the window and said, “I see the Christmas lights on Highway 2, and that means Rugby is 10 minutes away.”
Warner and Dallas have also shared that they have received mail addressed to the “Christmas tree lights on Highway 2,” and it was delivered. This is proof that their light and pleasant interactions are certainly stringing along a number of overjoyed travelers.
They are living examples that Norwegians really can think out of the box! Dallas once shared with me that she unraveled her lovely Norwegian sweater – tired of the current design – and took up her knitting needles and created a new masterpiece. Warner shared with me that he designed their hot water heating system so that the pipes could be filled with antifreeze. Life does not have to be bland, and Warner and Dallas have figured this out. By using the spice of their imaginations, they have seasoned their experiences in life very well. A living and growing example of this are the throngs of pine trees that spiff up the area south of their home. (This may be a later source for lights!) So it does not surprise me that these two very ingenious folks knew long before Tom Bodett the importance of “leaving the light on for us!”
When we moved into our current home and had it rewired, an outlet was placed under all windows for one purpose only – to plug in window candles. Being a photographer, noticing and admiring light is only natural. For many years, we, like the Knudsons, have left our Christmas lights and window candles on well beyond Christmas. Why? Because in the darkness of January, light can be so very refreshing. My brother Kelly, who lives in Alaska, knows well the shortness of daylight in the winter months. He tells us that folks there are encouraged to leave their Christmas lights on for most of the winter. It is the glimmer of these lights that help to fight off the depressing, gloomy cloak of winter darkness.
Just recently I changed all of our orange candle bulbs to white bulbs, and they along with the mini white lights on our shrubs, shine forth pure enchantment. Once the deed was done and all was aglow, we hopped into the car and drove past our home to get the full impact. She appeared like a grand dame – gilded, reflecting warmth, and a significant measure of dazzle. For a moment, the bleak of winter pauses like an indrawn breath, and we sanctioned a bit of toasty optimism. So go ahead and leave your Christmas lights up a bit longer -maybe even year round- because there is nothing like a surplus of warmth and cheer. Who knows? When you combine this lighted action with a bit of Gum Drop Fruit Salad, it could be euphoric.
If you want a salad that looks like Christmas lights on snow, here it is. Peeking out of swirls of white will be colorful gumdrops, pineapple wedges, plump grapes and mini white pillows (also known as marshmallows). Color plays such an important part in food presentation. Remember, we eat with our eyes first. The circles of entertaining color within this salad welcome guests while jumpstarting their taste buds. When the buzz dies down, don’t be surprised if guests ask where the black gum drops disappeared to!
Jan received this recipe from Nettie Hunter Thorsen, who served for many years as the Superintendent of Schools for Pierce County. She and Jan became acquainted in the professional teaching sorority of Delta Kappa Gamma. She shared with Jan that she traveled to many country schools in her day, and she was often invited to homes for meals. This salad was served to her on one of her country school jaunts. She mentioned to Jan that its cheerful appearance reminded her of the smiling faces of school children. This is a playful, yet delicious, salad is sure to garner charming comments. We have adapted this salad for Valentine’s Day by using only red gumdrops. That means the rest of the colorful gums drops are available for open range nibbling!
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