LEONARD KRANSDORF: Newcomer discovers GF’s subtle joys

GRAND FORKS -- "You moved from where?" That is the common and amazed response when I tell people I recently moved to Grand Forks from central Florida. Of course, the next question is, "Have you been through a North Dakota winter?" I explain that ...

GRAND FORKS - “You moved from where?”

That is the common and amazed response when I tell people I recently moved to Grand Forks from central Florida.

Of course, the next question is, “Have you been through a North Dakota winter?”

I explain that years ago I worked in North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska, and so I have some idea of what to expect.

I add that I wanted a change and was planning a move back to the Midwest. Fortunately, I got a job offer to work in Dining Services at UND.


I packed up my car, shipped a bunch of boxes and traveled nearly 3,000 miles to make the change.

In moving to any new community, one’s first impressions usually last a long time. And in my case, a number of episodes cemented the idea of this community showing kindness, patience and friendliness.

I first saw those attitudes about a week before I moved here, when I called the Howard Johnson Grand Forks hotel to reserve a room.

The young lady on the phone gave me the prices and the hotel’s location while also waiting on customers who were standing at her counter. And, she gave me advice on where to look for apartments, in addition to giving me the phone numbers of property management companies.

She even took my name and number and said she would contact friends to see if anyone had an efficiency or studio.

The next impression came on the job. On my first day, it would have been easy for the current employees to just say hello and go about their business. Instead, on that day and the days that followed, the cooks, administrators and students answered all my questions and took time out to guide me, console me when I burned the ribs and encourage me to get better.

Being new to the area, I like to explore to see what is available. One of those journeys took me downtown to Amazing Grains.

I don’t believe I’ve ever lived in a community that features a downtown grocery store, much less one that constantly is busy like Amazing Grains.


On my first visit, one of the employees must have sensed I was a newcomer because he came over and started a conversation while I was having lunch. He told me about the co-op, the upcoming Farmers Market, different stores in the downtown area and other topics.

I’m sure he had other commitments, but he answered my questions and offered a number of insights into what the community offered.

I have also taken to walking daily, many times to Lincoln Park.

On these excursions, I’ve noticed that there are many walkers and joggers here, many people who like to walk their pets and many others who in-line skate.

I’ve seen residents in other cities exercise. But I’ve seen a lot more of them here than I’ve seen elsewhere, and I’ve also seen them at all hours of the day.

Two other memories from those Lincoln Park walks.

Recently, a young couple was sitting on a bench having a late lunch. They said hello, and we started a conversation. They easily could have ignored me, but they both smiled, and we all enjoyed the peacefulness and the river view.

A few days earlier, I had noticed a young man sitting on a bench, playing a guitar and singing, his bike being just a few feet away.


He was lost in his music, but no one bothered him or snickered at him as they biked past or played disc golf nearby.

These days, when friends from Florida ask me where I’m living, I’m happy to say I’m in Grand Forks. And you’ve just read my answer to the question that comes next.

Kransdorf is a cook with Dining Services at UND.

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