by Dennis Dalman
A book written by Liz Fiedler of St. Joseph is a perfect tribute to the memory of her husband who died so suddenly and to his little daughter to whom he loved to read storybooks.
The richly-illustrated, self-published 34-page book, entitled “When Flowers Bloom,” is about Josh Fiedler and daughter Vidalia, but it is also about – in Liz Fiedler’s words – “patience with God’s timing, the changing of the seasons, knowing we can’t control everything.”
Josh was a farm lender employed by Compeer Financial in Waite Park. At the Fiedlers’ farm on Dec. 9, 2020, Josh was working out on his treadmill in the home during a lunch break when he suddenly collapsed from heart failure. Tragically, it was the second sudden, unexpected death at the Ray and Mary Fiedler farm. Ten years earlier, Mary died in a farming-related accident. Ray is now retired.
Josh’s death at age 39 devastated many people who knew him well and loved him – wife and daughter, father, relatives, friends, acquaintances, co-workers.
The day after Josh’s funeral, Liz learned she was one-month pregnant. Their second daughter, Davie, is now 6 weeks old. Liz is a part-time nurse practitioner for the CentraCare health system.
Liz said “When Flowers Bloom” would probably not have been written had it not been for Dan Mondloch, a Cold Spring resident who is an accomplished watercolor painter. Mondloch’s wife worked with Liz at the St. Cloud CentraCare Hospital. After Josh’s death, the Mondlochs wondered what they could do as a gesture of sympathy and kindness for Liz and her daughter. Using as visual guides photos of Josh and daughter Vidalia, Mondloch painted four small watercolor paintings and gave them to Liz. She was so moved by the beauty of the paintings, she immediately thought they should be printed somewhere, perhaps in a book. That’s when inspiration struck.
“Why don’t I write a book?” Liz thought.
And she began to write one. Mondloch, happy to hear the news, agreed to illustrate the book with more paintings, many of them of flowers in a profusion of radiant colors because Liz grows four huge gardens of flowers on the farm.
Born and raised in Lake Benton in southwestern Minnesota, Liz Weber moved to the central Minnesota area. A friend introduced her to Josh Fiedler. The two of them began to date, and their mutual affection grew steadily. They married in 2014, then moved to Josh’s farm, which is now known as Sunny Mary Meadow Farm, a name that derived from the “sunny” personality traits of Mary Fiedler, who died in the 2010 farming accident.
During the courtship and after the marriage, Liz commuted frequently to South Dakota to finish her work for a doctorate degree in nursing.
The old farm has been in the Fiedler family since 1888 and has been honored as a “Century Farm.” Now a hobby farm, it could well be dubbed “Flowering Acres” because Liz is passionate about growing flowers – lots of them, four big flower gardens on a half-acre patch of land. Every summer, the gardens bloom with the kinds of flowers than can be cut and enjoyed as bouquets or in vases – zinnias, tulips, dahlias, sunflowers, eucalyptus, snapdragons. When she was in her high school Future Farmers of America club, she grew flowers and worked with flowers at the Lincoln County Fair. She liked them so much that at one time she’d considered a career in floriculture.
In a sense, floriculture has indeed become a career for Liz, albeit a part-time one. She sells flowers at a road-side stand at the farm, along with other products, such as jams and jellies and eggs. The eggs are the specialty of 3-year-old daughter Vidalia, who is happy to tend the farm’s 38 hens and two roosters.
In the growing season, Liz also sells cut-flowers via a subscription service. Customers can order bouquets or arrangements and pick them up at the farm by appointment. There are also “pick-your-own” times available in the summer.
In addition, Liz also conducts classes on the farm so people can learn about flowers and how to grow them.
Vidalia is so proud of her mother’s book, which Liz read to her aloud over and over, at Vidalia’s insistence, the same way Vidalia loved to hear her daddy read to her, some days for hours at a time.
“By now, she’s got this new one just about memorized,” Liz said.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
“For everything there is a season.
We can try to understand but only God knows the reason.
We can try to plan; we can try to prepare.
But God decides who, what, when and where.
Someday we’ll know why.”
It won’t be too many years before Vidalia will be reading “When Flowers Bloom” to her beloved little sister, Davie.
“When Flowers Bloom” is available at many local bookstores, including “Weathered Revivals” in St. Joseph. It can also be purchased on Liz’s business website: www.sunnymarymeadow.com.
That website also has lots of information and photos of Liz, Josh, their children and Liz’s flower business.
A good portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will go to a scholarship endowment, the Joshua Fiedler Memorial Scholarship at St. John’s University. Josh was a 2003 SJU graduate.