I grew up in a small town called Reedsburg, Wis. Although the population was posted on a sign as 5,038, on any given weekend, I would see only six of those people: my mom, dad, brother, sister and two of the neighbor kids who lived a mile down the road.
Every Saturday, I would hop on my bike and pedal my legs as fast as they would take me to find my best friend, Tina, and her little sister.
The three of us had more fun running through the fields, climbing trees in the woods on their land and sticking our toes into a tiny little brook that hid deep in that magical forest.
I remember feeling so free! So independent! Living on the edge of danger yet knowing I was so safe.
I haven’t thought about Tina or her little sister or all of the fun adventures we had back then for years.
It wasn’t until I read this letter, sent in by a Fargo man named George, that I started to remember what it was like as a kid, and more importantly, what I was like as a kid.
I’ll be honest, I had to look up several words in George’s letter, such as “slough” (it means swamp, marsh, bog) and “roto duck” (it’s either a motorized decoy or an air-duct cleaning company depending on which website you want to use).
I have no idea what George said that triggered all of these memories for me, but I sure hope it does the same for you.
“The reason I am writing is to tell you of something nice that happened to me about five years ago.
I love to hunt water fowl. I often walk into remote water ponds to both hunt and observe the wildlife. One day, I parked my truck on a small dirt road and started walking across a hayfield.
As I walked, I noticed a tractor and a pickup truck coming down the road. Soon, the pickup turned and came across the hayfield toward me. Being a person who never goes on posted (no trespassing) land, I thought, ‘What have I done wrong?’ The truck stopped when it got to me, and the young man inside asked if I wanted to hunt ducks.
He said there was a slough behind his barn loaded with ducks. When I asked him if he was sure that he wanted me to hunt on his farmstead, he said ‘No problem’ and told me where to set my decoys.
I went to the slough and was starting to set up when the young man and his father came to see how I was doing. They asked if I had a roto duck, and I said no, so his father went and got theirs, and the son put it out in the water along with my decoys. They told me exactly where to sit so I would be able to see the ducks coming.
These were fourth- and fifth-generation farmers who felt they should share their land with others. What a treat! I will never forget their kindness.”
Yes, George, the hunting thing is foreign to me, but the kindness thing is not. Thank you so much for your kindness of allowing me to re-live my childhood for a moment.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo, and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.