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PIONEER PERSPECTIVES: Go try something new today

Because of my father’s ambitions and mother’s willingness to go along with it, my siblings and I have a wealth of knowledge about some really oddball things.

Annalise Braught mug.jpg
Annalise Braught is a photographer and editor at the Pioneer.
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Last week one of our reporters was working on a story about a local beekeeper and was searching for his contact info online and kept coming up empty. We were talking about how to get in touch with him during our weekly staff meeting, and then it hit me — I might have his number saved in my phone.

And sure enough, there it was.

Those around the table erupted in laughter when this was discovered, because why would I have a random farmer’s number in my phone? One person chirped, “who in this town do you not know?” as this is not at all the first time something like this has happened.

I proceeded to explain how my dad used to be really into beekeeping when I was a teenager and had worked with this specific farmer years ago, so that’s probably why I had it saved.

A few days later the topic came up again when I was editing the story and explaining some beekeeping terminology to the reporter. A few minutes after that a question was asked about a classical music composer that I knew the answer to and another reporter in the room asked, “how do you know that?” I responded with a casual, “Oh, I studied the history of classical music one year in high school.”

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At that, another one of the reporters let out a hearty laugh about the fact that I could go from talking about extracting honey one minute to studying classical music the next. “Those just do not go together in my mind,” she laughed.

I shrugged it off and said something like, “I don’t know. I’ve just done a lot of things I guess.”

In the days since I’ve been pondering this series of events and I’ve come to the conclusion that my dad is to blame for all this. I don’t mean that to sound negative at all; he is just one of the best definitions of a “visionary” I’ve ever come across.

He loves to try new things, and growing up he always encouraged us kids to experience these things, too. Whether it's knowing how to play an instrument, becoming a pro at camping outside in the winter or pushing the limits of how many varieties of tomatoes one can grow (pretty sure he maxed out in the high 90s), he’s done — and taught others — a multitude of things in his 55 years of life.

In addition to running his own home building and construction business since I was little, he’s taught us a lot of life lessons and practical skills in the most hands-on kind of way.

From raising a slew of animals, making homemade soap, doing a whole lot of gardening, saving seeds for seed companies — and we can’t forget about the beekeeping — we basically have done it all when it comes to the farm and garden life. Not to mention each of us played several instruments, were heavily involved in 4-H and dabbled in a variety of other random endeavors over the years.

By the time I got to college and had various jobs, I started realizing how some saw the childhood I had as strange and difficult to relate to. It made me feel weird talking about it, I didn’t want to be thought of as some know-it-all who had done everything under the sun.

But the older I get the more I am finding myself leaning into it. Why should I downplay my experiences just because others have been too afraid to try something out of the ordinary?

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When I look around at a lot of the people around me in their 20s and 30s, most of them have never done things like milk a goat or grow their own tomato, and wouldn’t even know where to start with extracting honey or making soap.

Yet here I am, following in my dad’s footsteps, growing as much of my own food as my small Bemidji yard will allow and managing a local farmers market. I love camping and being out in nature, I can still play a few instruments, know a lot about cars and am pretty good at fixing up houses.

Because of my father’s ambitions and mother’s willingness to go along with it, my siblings and I have a wealth of knowledge about some really oddball things. And while it might have seemed like I was throwing my dad under the bus earlier, I’m really thankful to him for helping me end up here.

It’s thanks to him (and my mom for putting up with it all) I have stories to tell and experiences to share with others who had less overly-ambitious parents than mine.

So let this be your little nudge, courtesy of my dad, to go try something new today. Then you too can have some wild stories to share.

Annalise Braught is the editor and a photographer at the Pioneer. She can be reached at (218) 358-1990 or abraught@bemidjipioneer.com.

More Pioneer Perspectives
Next month marks two years for me as editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. While it may not seem like a lot of time, considering the two years we’ve been through, it sort of feels like it’s been an eternity.

Annalise is the editor and a photographer at the Bemidji Pioneer. She is a Mass Communication graduate from Bemidji State University. Her favorite pastime is exploring the great outdoors and capturing its natural beauty on camera. Contact Annalise at (218) 333-9796, (218) 358-1990 or abraught@bemidjipioneer.com.
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