Tim’s recollections

I live in Clotho so Thomas, who never lived here while my family was here, was sort of a spiritual neighbor. The first time I met him was probably about 1987 when he walked down to our strawberry field in Clotho from the Hansmeyer house. That’s a pretty long walk but he had little Tony and Monica in tow and they picked some berries and we made a new friend.
I actually don’t remember the details of the next few years but we kept in contact pretty regularly. Once, when Thomas was in Colombia, we got a letter from him. It was addresed, “The Kings” “Clotho” USA. You tell me how that got here? It was pure Thomas to send something like that.
You all know he went of to do his undergraduate work at the U of M in soils. But what you don’t know is what a name he made for himself when he became a research assistant with the guy who was studying earth worms. With sustainable farmers Thomas became the guy to call to talk about worms. Of course he loved soil profiles. Ask him and he’d dig a five foot hole in your field and discuss with anybody willing to listen what all those marvelous stripes were in the soil profile. Then he’d probably laugh at himself for being so crazy. But his love for the life of the soil was infectious and broughtv joy and understanding to many a farmer.
Thomas and the work-a-day world didn’t get along too well, I don’t think. When he got out of college he went to work for Stearns County SWCD. There were some pretty vicious people over there. He came to our house one evening crying his heart out. He cried so hard I never quite knew what they did to him. We went to a movie with my wife and son and he felt better. But he never went back there.
I never knew why he felt he should go back to the University and get his masters degree. I felt the U was like the SWCD. But Thomas maybe understood stuff I didn’t. There were some great people in the soils department — like Dave Huggins and Deborah Allen – and Thomas really got into what they were thinking about and about new ways of doing research. Thomas and I traveled around southwestern Minnesota a little. I remember one long day of visiting farmers. Thomas loved asking farmers what they thought about their soil. He’d touch it with them, smell it, walk around a field with them, and listen to them. Soils experts just don’t normally respect dumb farmers. Thomas did. One night we ended up at the Calumet Inn in Pipestone. For a couple hungry country boys it was a pretty nice night out. Then we drove over to Lamberton to stay with Dave Huggins. He and Huggins talked for hours about carbon ratios and soil quality and porosity until I dropped out of my chair. They didn’t even see me fall.
Thomas’ thesis really challenged the scientists. It was so agro-eco-socio. They just knew you couldn’t count it. I think he really challenged them and some of those good people were ready to be challenged. He invited me to be on the review committee for his oral presentation. That was very strange since I didn’t want to criticize him or judge him and since I didn’t know how that stuff works.
That was the last time I saw him. I’m not sure what happens to friends and why we grow apart. I have missed his friendship for somes years and miss it more for knowing I’ll not have it back. But I did have it and was enriched by it.
One other thing. Maybe somebody found a girl Zapatista doll in his stuff. I bought that for him one warm January night in the market in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapis. When I came back to the airport in Minneapolis it was late and really cold. I didn’t have a jacket and was worried. Thomas came walking down the long empty concourse. He was wearing a warm jacket and had one in his arms for me. Thoughtful guy. I showed him the doll. He laughed

3 thoughts on “Tim’s recollections”

  1. Well, dammit, I thought I was done crying. But no. Smiled to myself about Thomas and Monica and Tony and berries. Thought to myself “yup” about Thomas being the go-to guy for worms. Then lost it with Soil and Water Conservation thing in Stearns county. Hadn’t thought of that for years. I left. Walked the dog. When I came back, I finished reading. And I am mess again over the doll thing.
    Just a note–the blog’s been down for awhile–as it turns out because it’d run out of disk space. I have upped my account, have more disk space, and so away we go.

  2. Boy, It was so easy to picture tomas while reading this. thank you! I could see him holding that coat on the concourse. That’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. For some reason, it’s a deja vu too. I feel like I remember tomas going to pick you up and bringing that jacket. I wonder when that was? Maybe it was a dream….I prefer dreams to waking life lately. I even got to give him a big hug a couple of nights ago…it was so good to see him. What a faith he had in the Universe…..why else would he address a letter like that!

  3. Tim:
    Sweet friends from Clotho.. thanks for the thoughts.. my little brother who is missed.. unpredictable, kind and thoughtful in his own rhythm.. Gracias hermano Dorothea

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