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Gayla Marty
Minnesota, USA
Writer and editor
Interests: Culture, agriculture, natural history
Recent Activity
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My great-aunt Effie hosted generations of nieces and nephews. We were enchanted by her yard and garden full of wondrous things, like a goldfish pond and a little Dutch windmill. The windmill was an early lesson in perspective. Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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We were not thinking about food when we decided to go to Egypt, although drink was on my list. My roommate and I were living in Tunis in 1980, where the school break at the end of January was rainy and cold. Egypt sounded dry and warmer. I also fancied having a birthday in Egypt. I would be 22, and I thought it might be easier for two women to have a celebratory drink there than in Tunis. It was my roommate’s idea to go. Her two-year teaching contract in Tunis was nearing its end and she did not want... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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“The sap dam suddenly burst,” my friend Bruce wrote at 5:30 a.m. on April 13. All 300 buckets were filling as fast as the Nelsons could drive the Farmall H around their woods and collect the sap, clear as water. Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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Gramma Marty had a little sewing trunk sitting next to her treadle machine, 12 x 12 x 24 inches. It was made of little pine boards nailed together, covered in leftover floral upholstery or drapery fabric. Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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Walking into the Eastside Food Co-op in northeast Minneapolis, I scan the citrus. They greet you at the door, fresh in from Florida and Texas and California, orbs of golden sun. One day in December I see the tag for blood oranges. You can’t rely on how they look, really—most of them look like any other oranges—but a few blush magenta. I inhale. My mouth waters. Once I lost a suitcase with blood oranges inside. It was 1979, when I was living in Tunisia as a college exchange student. I got the chance to spend Christmas in Switzerland with the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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Growing up on the Marty farm, so full of trees, I never saw or even heard of a tamarack. The reason I never knew tamaracks is one of the same reasons tamarack appeared all over the 1851 survey map: Those trees were like gold. The mapmakers had railroads in mind, and tamarack was prized for railroad ties in the days before creosote. Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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Ever since I learned that boats once came all the way to the wall of the old Tunis medina, I have wondered how the new city could have been built upon a shallow lake. A brochure from the cathedral, built in the 1890s, gives an example. Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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On the big blue wooden door from the terrace into the flat is an image of a fountain made from black studs pounded into the wood in the rustic Tunisian style. To me it’s a tree. Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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It was the fig tree around which the architect planned the little house not far from the sea. Past the terrace is a space with seven small trees—almond and peach and lemon among them. Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2013 at Gayla Marty
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I lived in Tunisia in the fall of 1979, a year when American Thanksgiving fell on the heels of the Muslim New Year. A few weeks earlier, hostages had been captured at the U.S. embassy in Iran, two time zones east of us, setting the world on edge. Ripples reached us on that southern shore of the Mediterranean. Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2012 at Gayla Marty
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Something falling on the roof woke me. Thwack. And then again, unnaturally loud, thwack, thwack, thwack. After that the sound of running feet above my head. Acorns, just little acorns sounding heavy as coconuts. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2012 at Gayla Marty
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I found the Friends of Minnesota Barns back in the 1990s and recognized kindred souls. Most of these men and women have a barn in their lives that they've helped to save from destruction or demise. Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2011 at Gayla Marty
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As waves of protest and revolution have swept across North Africa and the Middle East in recent weeks, waves of emotions have swept through me. Thirty-one years ago this winter, I was a student in Tunisia. Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2011 at Gayla Marty
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Auntie Lou was a boon to the Marty family, which was a pretty serious bunch. She was not only smart, talented, and skilled, but funny, too. She was cool. Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2011 at Gayla Marty
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In the long school break for Christmas during fifth grade, I wrote my first long story, a chapter book called "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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In Christmas 1960, Auntie and Uncle were newlyweds. Gramma Marty was visiting a relative in California. The twins, who started out so tiny, were thriving. Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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What I remember from winter nights on the farm is darkness. What I know of winter nights in the city is light. Continue reading
Posted Dec 21, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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So many of my gramma Viola's photographs are vistas of snow, huge piles of it, hanging on evergreens or plowed into towering white walls. Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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This is my dad around the age of 13, out shoveling the path between unseen buildings, the farmhouse on the right and the woodshed and outhouse on the left. You can barely see the handle of his shovel above the drifts. Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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We were a family full of pairs. Dad and his brother farmed in partnership as Marty Brothers and were married to the Anderson sisters. Before them, the previous generation of Marty Brothers ran the farm. The farm had two houses and two barns. Then Mom had twins. Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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Last week I drove north to Grand Rapids on the Mississippi and talked to a group of women woodland owners. The landscape of evergreens stretched out to the horizon... Over the next few days, I drove to towns in central Minnesota. Here the land was open, broad fields separated mostly by bare hardwoods. Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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Cold. Dry. Hard. Windy. There was no comfort riding on a load of corn cobs on a November day. But apparently we kids did it anyway. It was exciting. Continue reading
Posted Nov 11, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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On November 7, 1881, Jacob Marty and Suzannah Truempler were married. He had been in Minnesota a year, and she had just arrived from Switzerland, soon to change the spelling of her name to Susanna. Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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By Halloween, the leaves are down. There's always a wind that sweeps the trees clean—all except the red oaks, which give up their leaves over the course of the winter. Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2010 at Gayla Marty
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During the last dozen years of Dad's life, he and Mom lived on her home place, on acres passed down through the Anderson side of the family. Every fall they went to the woods, sawed up a naturally fallen tree, and hauled the wood back to the house. Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2010 at Gayla Marty