419rural wisdom book

Mother wonders what people will think of her

By Janet Kubat Willette

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Larry Ernster didn’t intend to write a book.

Instead his first book, "Rural Wisdom: The Times When Life Has Really Spun Our Wheels," started out as a collection of letters to his mother, Pernilla.


The title relates to a lesson in the book and also to the cover photograph. It shows a tractor buried up to its axles with a 1956 Nash Rambler in the background.

Ernster’s father, Linus, drove the nine-passenger vehicle to the field and captured his son’s foolishness before going about pulling out the tractor.

Ernster described his range of emotions that day when he was 14 or 15 and was plowing the southwest 40 in the spring. At first he was angry because he was stuck. Next, he decided he’d seen how fast the wheels could spin using both the right and left brakes. Uh-oh, he thought, when he had buried the tractor up to its axles and had to climb down and walk home for help.

His family was there to help when he buried the tractor and they provided the push he needed to self-publish the book. His mother made copies of his letters to her and passed them around to his seven siblings.

"Rural Wisdom" was published by AuthorHouse, a publishing company for people to publish their own books. "Rural Wisdom" is an e-book, meaning books are printed to order. It is available at many bookstores and

Growing up, Ernster didn’t realize how unique his family was. They got along, loved each other, and mom and dad were always around.

"It wasn’t until I left that I learned … that wasn’t a bad thing," Ernster said. "What I discovered was I was very blessed." He left the family farm in Caledonia for college in Winona. After graduating and four years in the service, he settled in the Twin Cities. He writes for fun.

"I’m a computer guy for profit," Ernster said.


As he got older he realized that life on the farm provided great wisdom to apply to city life.

In the book, he writes of dining out with his wife, Mary Kris, where the waitress has a nose ring. This sends him down memory lane to how nose jewelry was used on the farm.

"Noses and nose jewelry were our major way of controlling livestock on the farm," Ernster writes. He writes of anti-sucking barbs for cows, big brass rings with chains tied to it for bulls, snout handles for hogs and halters and bridles for horses.

Ernster uses the chapter as a way to illustrate that differences are good and interesting.

Each chapter has two titles, one describes what he writes about and the other the lesson he learned from the story.

While Ernster appreciates his rural upbringing, he said he needed to get out and see the world. Back in the 1970s, the Cities was the only place a computer guy could find work, he said, but if he had it to do over again he’d still move to the city.

Yet, he still enjoys trips to the country. He writes of taking the time to explore back roads.

"If you have the time, that’s really the way to travel," he said.


"Here in the country the roads are still meant to serve its inhabitants," he writes. "The roads go around farmhouses and wander left or right to find towns truly in the middle of nowhere. The Interstate is meant to serve strangers; to help them avoid the country. …The back roads serve the inhabitants." Ernster said early reaction to the book has been favorable, with more people wanting to meet his mother than him.

He writes of his mother doing laundry and her belief in God.

"Mom’s solution to every problem started with prayer," Ernster wrote

He also writes of his youthful exploits including the county fair, climbing on rooftops and standing atop the silo.

His 88-year-old mother’s reaction after reading the book: "What will people think of me as a mother?"

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