Provincial Pleasures

Nature and culture mingle in the riverside town of Lanesboro

The patterns seemed to be getting more complex the deeper into the book I got. Glancing at my egg, I began regretting my decision to ask Peter Torkelson, co-owner of Scandinavian Inn B&B in Lanesboro, to teach me the craft he’s spent years honing: Pysanky, or Ukrainian Easter-egg decorating.

I’d arrived in Lanesboro earlier that day, and spent the morning familiarizing myself with the town of some 750 residents. With only two main streets and the Root River bookending its north and west ends, it shouldn’t have taken me long. But somehow minutes turned into hours as I browsed locally made art at the Lanesboro Arts Center, tested Thymes lotions at Slant Avenue Mercantile, peeked inside the tiny 1950s throw-back Spud Boy Diner, and savored a juicy, locally sourced bison burger at Pedal Pushers Café. Fortunately, my next stop, Commonweal Theatre, was just across the street (as can be said of most things in Lanesboro), so I wasn’t too tardy for my meeting with Scott Dixon.

Photo by  bobak ha’eri

Dixon has been acting and directing with Commonweal for 12 seasons now and is the mastermind behind this year’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. As a theater junkie, I like seeing what theaters around the state are up to. As a theater classicist, however, I have to admit that as Dixon began unfolding his vision to put a steampunk twist on Dickens’s masterpiece, my inner critic rolled her eyes. But the longer I listened to his ideas—Scrooge hiding behind technology instead of money, five actors tackling multiple roles—the more I appreciated the spin. Here, in the middle of farm country, an intimate, uniquely crafted theater will stage one of the most radical interpretations of A Christmas Carol I’ve ever encountered. How could I not be intrigued?

Such surprises defined my time in Lanesboro, from having breakfast delivered to my room via dumbwaiter at Scandinavian Inn, to how quickly 10.2 miles pass when biked on the bluff-enclosed trail linking Lanesboro and Preston. The best surprise, however, came as I wiped away the last bit of wax from my egg: there, in bold hues of black, blue, yellow, and white, was the pattern I’d so meticulously drawn on. That such a small thing could give me such joy was totally unexpected, not unlike little Lanesboro itself.

MNMO’s Guide to Lanesboro

Snag room five at The Scandinavian Inn B&B and relish the rare treat that is waking up to breakfast lifted directly to you on a dumbwaiter. (Rooms start at $99,

Pedal Pushers Café is throwback in décor but forward-thinking in food: most of their menu is locally sourced ( Get cozy in a booth or on one of the stools at the Spud Boy Diner (

Come winter, the well-kept bike trails around Lanesboro become cross-country ski trails. Rent skis at either Little River General Store ( or Root River Outfitters (101 Parkway Ave. S., 507-467-3400) and take in the beauty that is the driftless area. Expand your imagination with the Commonweal Theatre’s steampunk take on A Christmas Carol ( Get a feel for 11 of Lanesboro’s B&Bs on the 2012 Christmas Inn Tour, taking place Sunday, December 2. Each stop features snacks and a chance to browse the property (