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Nothing beats feel-good days of summer

With the dawning of today, we are 18 days past the halfway mark of 2008. Some call these the "dog days." To me, they are the feel-good days of summer because of what I've seen, heard and experienced lately. For starters, my sons tell me I can nev...

With the dawning of today, we are 18 days past the halfway mark of 2008.

Some call these the "dog days." To me, they are the feel-good days of summer because of what I've seen, heard and experienced lately.

For starters, my sons tell me I can never, ever get rid of my 1960s vintage blue-and-white Schwinn bicycle with silver fenders, white-flowered banana seat and golden rubber horse-head handlebar grips. Troy and Dean think it's a classic, which it is. It's one speed (my speed), and that's just fine with me.

One night a few weeks back, I decided to go riding at 9 p.m. Since then, it's been 9 every night simply because of the beauty of that time of day.

At 10 p.m., I come in raving about the fragrances emitted by the yellow-blossomed linden trees and the pink petunias I pass, plus the aroma of freshly cut grass and someone's fire pit bonfire.

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The words of Henry David Thoreau come to mind as I pedal. In his work, "Solitude," Thoreau wrote, "I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."

I realize that this 9 o'clock hour is perfect seclusion time with God.

Take Monday night. As I rounded a corner, I looked up at the sky. There's no one near me, save God, but I hear myself say, "How in the world do I describe this?"

The sun was below the horizon, but it still was broad daylight. The western sky was pale blue. The darker blue southeastern sky was plastered with layers of lighter, pillowlike clouds that looked like their edges had been dipped in pink paint. Vivid pink and blue -- how interesting!

I kept riding and looking up, and suddenly the tip of a huge fluffy marshmallow cloud was illuminated in glistening white, almost like it was on a stage and a stage hand had put a spotlight on it. The white cloud was fairly dancing with the pink and blue clouds.

Every now and then, the moon peeked through as if to say, "Hey, I'm up here, too. See me?" Indeed, I did, in its perfectly white roundness.

It was an incredible sight to behold, and in my solitude with the Creator, I told Him, "You did so well when You did all this. Thank you for letting me see it."

On another day, as I was heading off the Point in East Grand Forks, I rounded the curve past Family of God Lutheran Church and soon had to come to a complete stop on this busy street. Every car in all four lanes did the same.

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Crossing right in front of us, and heading toward the new disc golf course, was a mother duck with six to eight baby ducks waddling behind her.

The mom duck jumped the curb into the grass, and all but two babies did the same. Those two made several attempts but couldn't quite scale the curb, so they waddled a little farther north, tried again and made it. It was a happy sight to see this little fowl family reunited.

Feeling better still

One more feel-good summer story -- this one about Jack Kleven, Grand Forks.

On July 1, Jack went shopping at Hugo's on 32nd Avenue South, which houses a branch of Alerus Financial. Jack placed a roast, sparkling water, bread and lettuce in his cart, not noticing that he covered up a small blue Alerus bank envelope with his groceries.

At the checkout, with Jack's cart emptied, the young man bagging asked Jack about the envelope lying in the cart. It was the first time Jack had seen it.

He picked it up and counted 14 $20 bills.

Earlier, an older woman had cashed a check at the Alerus branch and also bought groceries in Hugo's. After paying for them, she accidently left the envelope in her cart -- the same one Jack later used. When the woman discovered her missing money, she returned to the bank to ask whether it had been found. Since it had not, she wrote down her name and phone number and was told also to leave them at the supermarket service desk.

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Jack told a Hugo's service desk employee of the amount he found, gave his name and telephone number and asked that if anyone came saying they had lost that amount to call him.

"When I got home, this lady called, and she was almost in tears," Jack said. "I assume she had gone home, and from the time I found it until she called, it was about an hour."

Jack returned the money to Alerus, and the woman picked it up. On the phone, she asked Jack what she owed him.

"I said, 'Just a thank-you, that's all,' " Jack said. "Believe me, that thank-you meant more to me. Just by the tone of her voice, no amount of money could have made me feel better. She was terribly relieved that she got the money back. Speculation on my part is that this was a tremendous amount of money to this lady."

If a store clerk gives Jack a dime too much, he tells them.

"It's just the way I am," he said. "I have plenty of faults, but this is one thing my folks really stressed. My mother and dad were unbelievably honest and straightforward and very religious people, and it's something that rubbed off."

By the way, Jack's late father, John D. Kleven, was public works director for the city of Grand Forks from the 1930s to the 1960s -- "forever," as Jack puts it. His late mother, Lillian, worked in the fields during Red River Valley potato harvest.

This is a sampling of my feel-good days of summer.

It's 9 p.m. Time to ride!

Reach Dunavan at (218) 773-9521 or naomiinthespirit@aol.com .

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