Monday, October 17, 2016

End of the Season

by Chloe Ellefson

from the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

I've almost made it to November. At Old World Wisconsin, where I work as collections curator, that's a huge milestone. You see, the historic site closes for the season at the end of October.

Farmers and gardeners are busy getting the harvest in.

We have fourteen historic homes with working kitchens, and after the summer's oppressive heat, the fires are welcome again. I love stopping by on chilly days. If I'm lucky one of the interpreters will have baked or cooked something yummy.

On Halloween the seasonal staff will have a party and say good-bye. For me, though, one of the year's biggest challenges remains:  closing up over sixty restored structures. The most delicate artifacts are moved to heated buildings; others I cover and protect against erratic temperatures as best I can.

Only when that task is completed can I settle into a winter routine. The off-season is a time to do research, to take on preservation projects, to work with craftspeople who can reproduce tinware or woodenware for the interpreters to use.

I'd like to report that winter at the historic site is peaceful. I do enjoy having a chance to catch up on projects after the frenzied pace of open-season. But with the site closed it's easier for my micro-managing boss, site director Ralph Petty, to find me. He has a way of making my life miserable.

And my personal life is far from peaceful too. Ever since I started spending time with police officer Roelke McKenna, I've been getting sucked into murder investigations. I'm no eager amateur sleuth.  The truth is, however, that many modern crimes are influenced by past events. When historical knowledge or research is needed, Roelke turns to me.

But at this beautiful time of year, I remain hopeful. Maybe I can get through the off-season without Ralph Petty giving me an ulcer.  Maybe I can get through the winter without getting tangled up in some murder investigation.

Is that too much to hope for?

To learn more about this award-winning series, visit Kathleen's website.


  1. While living in Oconomowoc, I drove past Old World several times but never stopped to visit. It would be very interesting!