In 1980, thirty-one letters that Ole Nordlie had written to his sister and brother-in-law in Norway over a period of more than thirty years, were discovered. These letters formed the backbone for this book and helped carry the story from year to year. Through these letters, the author became better acquainted with the man who was her grandfather.
It is a sequel to Haul the Water, Haul the Wood and follows the lives of the next generation.
“Helmina, come and see the paper,” Anna called. “The write-up of your wedding is in it. “Helmina hurried to the kitchen. The May 8, 1896 copy of the Dakota Farmers Leader had arrived. Martin had brought back the mail when he delivered the milk to the Moe Creamery.
Excerpt – Ole’s Promise
by Doris Stensland
Marte paused and leaned on her rake as she inspected the haying operation. She watched the men wielding their scythes, with son, Ole Christian, in the lead. Marte felt pride in this son. He swung his scythe with a regular rhythm – not wasting any motions. He was the one who had inherited her father’s agricultural talents. Working with the land and the animals came naturally for him. A born farmer. Yet, it saddened her to realize that though he may have inherited farming talents, he never would inherit farm land on which to practice them . . for this son was second-born.
But it was a lovely day. The breeze had a cool touch to it. She decided this was the best part of washday – taking down the clothes that smelled so good, and feeling pride in the whiteness of the men’s shirts and the big tablecloth. There was nothing like the sun and good strong homemade soap to make them white.
She was distracted from her thoughts by the sound of a motor. It must be out on the highway, she decided. She took down several more shirts, and then she realized it was coming up their lane. Helmina walked to the front of the house to see what was coming . . .and it was, as she feared, one of those new automobiles.
When it came closer, it began to slow up, with loud pop-pops as it backfired. The chickens, in great fear, flew up and out of the way, and the horses standing by the barn kicked up their hind legs and ran off to the pasture. Only a few curious old milk cows stood by the barn, looking on at this noisy monster that had pulled into the yard.
Now Helmina saw who the driver was! Martin sat behind the wheel. He left the motor running as he swung open the little door and jumped down and went over to Helmina, who stood watching. She hadn’t cared to get too close.
“Well, Helmina, what do you think of it?”