Louise Hansen's lefse story — doesn't everybody have a lefse story? — is included in Gary Legworld's latest lefse book — doesn't every author have a lefse book? — "Keep on Rolling."
When artist Mark Thone was a senior at Mayo High School, his art teacher, Paul Fogarty, encouraged him to take an additional class the following semester.
"I took computer programming instead," Mark said.
It was the early 1980s and computer skills seemed marketable for future jobs; he regretted this decision. But despite only one art class in high school, today Mark works and supports himself as a professional artist.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota (a degree in individualized studies gave him an opportunity to study both art and science), Mark began a career in graphic design and advertising, working for the Target Corporation. Between projects he "would paint for relaxation."
A trip to a frame shop to pick up a painting led to a conversation, which resulted in "making a life choice." With a love of the outdoors and wildlife, he started his painting career, depicting his passions on canvas.
This fall, Mark won the Minnesota Migratory Waterfowl Stamp contest; in layman's terms, he won the state duck stamp contest.
Hunters, who are required to purchase a license, may also purchase the actual stamp. Collectors are also able to purchase stamps, which will be available beginning in March.
While this is his first Minnesota award, duck stamps are nothing new to Mark. Previous wins in similar state contests include Nevada (2016) and Connecticut (2017).
When not painting wildlife, Mark has a zeal for spring ephemerals (plants with a short life cycle). While he now lives in Shakopee, Mark still has family in Rochester. He visits regularly and on his "to paint" list are the iconic spring bluebells on Mayowood Trail.
Lefsa? You betcha!
Gary Legwold's second lefse book, "Keep on Rolling: Life on the Lefse Trail and Learning to Get Around" is a collection of lefse history. Included in the book is local shop owner Louise Hansen's lefse story. She and her husband, Walter, have been selling Nordic goods here in Rochester for more than 40 years.
And despite her Scandinavian heritage, Louise did not learn to make lefse until she was 50 years old. As a child, her mother made lefse. She recalls "coming home from school and it smelled so good, the scent from the wood-burning stove. It never crossed my mind that I would have to learn."
At Louise's father's funeral 16 years ago, her mother sadly remarked she had no one to make lefse with anymore. Two gentlemen chimed in that they would help. The "Irish-American had no idea what he was getting into. It's not just mixing and tossing it into the oven."
Today, the Hansen family gathers to make the traditional Norwegian-American flatbread (made with potatoes, flour, butter, and milk). Typically 25 people converge the weekend after Veterans Day, peeling 50 to 60 pounds of potatoes and now cooking on an electric lefse grill (strictly for lefse use). All ages help; even children under 5 are busy rolling lefse.
Hansen definitely thinks of lefse as seasonal. It is the perfect accompaniment to meatballs: "It is potatoes, after all."
However, everyone eats it differently. Some just add butter. Others use sugar. "It can be a dessert with coffee," Hansen said.
"We do eat quite a bit during the day; we eat our mistakes," she said. But after the lefse-making weekend, the Hansen family still has plenty of lefse left for the holiday season. Then they freeze the remaining lefse to pull out the following spring for Syttende Mai, Norwegian Constitution Day.
Seen & Heard highlights local people with interesting stories. Send tips to [email protected]