April 9th, 2021 by Gary Osberg

I was a “town kid” not a “farm kid”, but I learned the joy of “tilling the soil” through gardening. I got into gardening by helping my bachelor brother-in-law Jackie with his garden. Jackie and his parents had moved into the original Swedish Mission Church parsonage in Upsala in 1971.  It was built in 1892 by members of the church.  The garden was on church property west of the house. Jackie was forced to garden with a three wheeler because of bad knees so I offered to help with the tilling only to get yelled at for running over some of the seedlings. The rows that he planted were not straight and I did not know how to distinguish between weed and seedling. The next spring I drove stakes in the soil exactly 36” apart and used heavy string to define the rows. I didn’t get yelled at that year.

I bought the old parsonage from the estate of my mother-in-law and most years I had lots of vegetables.  Now the garden is mostly taken care of by my daughter.  She bought the old parsonage from me a few years ago.  We already missed getting the Yukon Gold potatoes in by Good Friday, as the Farmer’s Almanac suggests, but maybe by May 2nd. There are few joys better than freshly dug Yukon Gold potatoes baked or boiled, with real butter.

The first professional dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, Step Afrika! celebrates the pursuit of freedom, deeply embedded within the American experience, in their latest virtual production, STONO.

On September 9, 1739, the largest insurrection of enslaved Africans in North America began in South Carolina on the banks of the Stono River. Twenty Africans marched south toward a promised freedom in Spanish Florida, waving flags, beating drums, and shouting ‘Liberty.’ One year later, when Africans lost the right to use their drums through The Negro Act of 1740, they began to use their bodies as percussive instruments in response. This act of cultural survival and activism earned them the name of “Drumfolk,” and gave rise to some of the country’s most distinctive art forms including the ring shout, tap, hambone, and stepping.

Fueled by the artistry and traditions of these art forms, Step Afrika! ensures that this little-known yet history-altering movement is recognized for its transformation of African American life and culture and honors its place in the story of America.

Tomorrow evening at 7:30, CSB SJU Fine Arts is presenting a virtual performance of Step Afrika!  STONO”  Tickets are available at  

“You are a unique creation of nature and there is something that can be expressed only by you and that can be experienced by others only through you.” Anonymous

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