“Life’s Priorities:” A visit with Stan Maleska
By Julie Miedtke, University of Minnesota Extension
For the past 55 years, forty acres on Koivula Road has been the place Stan Maleska calls home. Seven children have been raised there with ample room to roam, watch wildlife, grow a garden and raise honeybees.
Stan quietly shared his life story while walking on a trail through the woods. His story began as a combat infantryman during a cold, snowy winter in 1944-1945 carrying a bazooka during the “Battle of the Bulge” battling Germans on the western front. After returning from service, Maleska pursued a degree from Michigan Tech in civil engineering which led to successful careers with Oliver Mining and Eveleth Taconite on the Iron Range. Today he wears a white hard hat from the mines, he turned and joked “do you see the E that remains on this hard hat?—originally it was for Eveleth Taconite, and now it is simply for EXCELLENCE!”
Two little dogs, Melbourne and Airy, joined our hike through the woods, as we looked at the old field that Stan had planted fifteen years ago. Norway pine (Pinus resinosa) have been patiently pruned, and now stand twenty five feet tall. The White Spruce are doing great and we looked at a Paper Birch that had naturally seeded into the site. We wandered through Stan’s private blueberry patch and gradually made our way to Stan’s ‘Listening Point’ near a solitary White Pine overlooking a pond lined with wild rice he had seeded. A mixed stand of trees line-up against the pond and Stan said with amazement, “I so enjoy looking at how these trees have grown over the years”. He also spoke fondly of relaxing in a chair, enjoying nature and wildlife like geese, ducks, deer and other critters.
He showed his apiary, with a ‘hot wire’ to keep away marauding bruins and spoke fondly of his daughter that has been able to help him with the hives. Stan also shared stories of family coming together to build trails on the original Maleska Homestead, 200 acres in Fredenberg Township.
Along the way, Stan was generous in offering his wisdom on “Life’s Priorities” and offered that time should not be spent on mowing lawns or pulling dandelions, rather the priority should be caring for the land and spending time with family out in the woods.
I appreciated my time spent with Stan, and as I was getting ready to leave I asked him why he attended the Itasca Woodlands meetings and classes. He had a twinkle in his eye and replied “why it’s all the learning”. Stan gave me a wave goodbye—and as I was driving back to the office, I just thought it was such a simple, inspiring message and clearly one of “Life’s Priorities”.
If you are a woodland owner, consider taking one of our classes—we’d love to meet you!
Reprinted with permission from the September 2008 issue of the Itasca Woodlands newsletter. To learn more about the Itasca Woodlands Committee, which publishes the newsletter, call Sheila at (218) 327-7486. Photos by Julie Miedtke.