I told someone recently that I was on my last lap, which means time is running out to write lots about a few things so I decided to write a little about a lot of things.

We had a small wind storm a few nights ago. It was strong enough to blow over our arbor, which was completely covered with a beautiful vine. It added a nice touch to Kathy’s flower gardens. Now I will have to rebuild it. I am not looking forward to it but I guess I would rather rebuild a small arbor than an entire porch or repair some windows or a roof. Yes, things could be worse.

We had three beautiful days for the three area parades in Debs, Red Lake and Bemidji. It could have been raining or windy or cold but the weather was perfect. A very good time was had by all. NEI Bottling supplied me with 1,200 100 percent Graduation Rate flyers that were handed out to parade viewers.

As I worked the parade I told onlookers of our 100 percent goal in Beltrami County. One parade viewer said that he wasn’t from Beltrami County. My reply was, “Yes, but you have kids there, too.” Regardless of where we live there are kids that need a push to graduate.

My brother and friend were recently up to fish Lake Julia. I feel just a little stress when they come up from southern Minnesota to fish panfish at which they are both experts. I am fearful the fish may not bite but things couldn't have been better. We caught over 300 sunfish (threw them all back to bite again) and some nice big crappies, which we also released. When fish are biting there is nothing more enjoyable -- even beats a cold cola and a cheeseburger.

We did have a fish fry with some of the fish I had in the freezer. In this mess of fish I included three good size rock bass just to see how they would taste. You couldn’t tell the difference between the rock bass, sunfish or crappies.

We have been having a little bit of rain lately. We aren’t having floods and we aren’t having a drought. We are having just the right amount at the right times. Canada has the fires, New Orleans has floods but the weather is just fine in Bemidji. If you can keep the bunnies away, your gardens should be looking good.

You have learned by now that when you venture outside in the evenings, you better cover yourself with bug spray. There used to be just one bug repellent and it was called 6-12, remember? It was greasy, had a terrible smell and didn’t work too well. But it was all we had to fight those ferocious mosquitoes. Now we have all kinds of repellent and they all work well. I was just thinking out loud the other day how nice it will be when we have the first frost, which will put those mosquitoes to rest. But, it’s too early for frost. In the meantime we have to settle for dragon flies and bats to come to our rescue.

The migrant situation on our southern border is a disaster and someone needs to come to its rescue -- kids crowded into cage-like facilities, kids separated from their family, no recreation, hot weather, poor food, claims of abuse. The situation is dreadful. One person I spoke to mentioned that she felt things were exaggerated and that no countries help us when we experience hardships. I kind of get what she was saying but then we aren’t like other countries. Let’s also remember that is legal to come across the border to seek asylum. Being as rich as we are, we do have a responsibility to help others. We believe in the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s the America I know.

It’s hard to believe but it has already been 20 years since John Kennedy, Jr. died in an airplane crash at the age of 38. For those of you who don’t remember, John Kennedy, Jr. lived on the edge. He was a bit reckless with his life but he enjoyed challenges. He was smart, had lots of talent and, like his father, he was loaded with charisma. Had he not been killed, he could have been president of the United States. His death was a tragedy for America.

A tragedy closer to home was the untimely death of Shannon “Opie” Barron, a Red Lake Nation conservation officer. Opie was a student at Red Lake High School during the time I served as principal. He played a major role in Red Lake’s winning football seasons during the late 1980s and he was an honor student. He was always a friendly, polite and gentle young man who took his work seriously and loved life. It’s hard to find words that fit such an occasion. As my grandmother used to say, “About the only thing you can say is ‘sorry.’”

My father was always a big one for raising gladiolas. In honor of his passing I dug up a plot of ground and planted about two dozen bulbs. I am happy to report they are all coming up. I am looking forward to the day when they are in full bloom and I can pick a bouquet and give it to Kathy to put in a vintage turquoise Fiesta vase.

I enjoy driving through the countryside on my way to Red Lake to look at the green fields, all kinds of foliage, wildlife, ponds and cattle. Farmers are beginning to cut hay. Most use the round bales but some still use square bales. There is nothing like the smell of freshly cut hay, which reminds me of the upcoming county fair and all the smells and sounds that go with it. I plan to be there often to remind kids, “Don’t forget to graduate.”

Well, I hope to get my arbor back on its feet and hope the sunfish continue to bite. I am looking forward to cutting glads for Kathy. I am deeply sorry for the family of Opie Barron and regret that we lost both John Kennedy, Jr. and Opie at such a young age. The other day I almost poked my eye out from a protruding tree branch. Let’s all be more careful out there but remember to smell the roses and if you have gladiolas, you have much to look forward to.

Riddle: Why did the banana wear sunscreen? (He didn’t want to peel.) Oh, yes, don’t forget the sunscreen if you try to catch some of those sunfish.

100 percent graduation

A local movement is underway to ensure the area has a 100 percent high school graduation rate. Project graduate and its goal of 100 percent is now part of Community Connections and the Chamber of Commerce.

Parents, you can improve your kids chances of graduating when you:

  • Do something with your kids at least once a week.

  • Go to garage sales and pick out some books for them.

  • Enroll them in a community recreation activity.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.