By Lexie Pitzen | Photo: Nick Morrison
Every morning, I spend a peaceful thirty minutes in the sunlit hills and foggy valleys of rural Minnesota. It’s not a trendy millennial meditation retreat or an ecotourist vacation—it’s my drive to work. This summer, living back home with my family, I’m interning at a local newspaper in a small town a county over.
Today, I’m the first one to the office, and I love it. Before I jiggle my key through the creaky front door, I smooth my black button-down shirt and pinstripe pants and check my makeup in the office window reflection. I’m working the front desk today while my supervisor is on vacation, and the calm, slow-paced job is a welcome break from chaotic college life. I especially love working these early mornings; I got to my desk before 8:00.
Out the window to my right, I can see the sun coming up over Main Street. Every now and then, a local walks or bikes past the window, stopping to greet anyone in their path; everyone knows everyone in this town. Mornings like this are lovely—warm, calm, and quiet. The loudest noise I can hear is a tractor driving by.
Before lunchtime, I need to knock out some research and prepare a newspaper page layout for next week’s issue. Every week, the paper dedicates a page to local history, and to gather the content for the page, I get to dig 10, thirty, and fifty years into the dusty newspaper archives. This is one of my favorite parts of the internship. Reading old newspapers is entertaining; today I found a fifty-year-old article about the moon landing.
I also have field work today. Summers are slow in small towns, but my editor and I came up with story ideas to fill pages, and I need to gather photos and interview quotes for a feature piece on community gardening. So, in the afternoon, I drive 5 minutes to a small church on a gravel country road where the pastor greets me immediately.
I take photos of the congregation and community members working in their gardens, and we walk around 5 acres of property set against a wide-open landscape of farms and fields. The pastor shows me the prayer garden, a tranquil setting enveloped in evergreen trees, and we discuss the spiritual benefits of gardening and spending time in nature—at this point, I’m not sure if I’m conducting an interview or having a heart-to-heart conversation.
This is typical of many interactions working this job. People open up quickly and ask me as many questions as I ask them. We recognize each other when we meet again later.
When I started working in this town, no one knew me or my family, but I’m not a stranger anymore. Tomorrow, my intern duties consist of hiking to the top of a cliff and taking photos of the view. The next day, I’m covering a city council meeting. I never know what will happen next. All I know is that I’ll be driving down picturesque routes, exploring tiny cities, and spending long days writing and taking photos.
And when I start my sophomore year of college, I am going to miss this.