Senator, lobbyist, convict: Win Borden writes next chapter

MERRIFIELD, Minn. - The Crow Wing County farm is home to musk rats, squirrels and rabbits.

The farmer, moving slowly through the farmhouse with the aid of walking stick, is equally fascinated with another animal. "The human mind is an interesting creature," he observes.

Win Borden should know. His mind has taken him on quite a ride the past 69 years, from Merrifield to the State Capitol to a federal prison - and now back to the farm where he started, reinventing himself once again as a social media blogger.

"The first 30 years of my life any writing I did was, you know, truly serious, I meanlegal stuff, public policy stuff," he laughs, "and it's come to this."

Outward displays of his previous life are so deeply buried Win hasn't a clue where to find them. A request to see photos sends him digging through file cabinets.

"Seed catalogues, that won't do it," he mumbles, as he fingers his way through his files.

Finally, under a layer of closet dust, Win reveals a black-and-white photo. It's 1968 and he's standing next to Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

"I was delegate to the Democratic National Convention," he says. "Don't I look like a serious lad back then?" he laughs heartily.

Win was just 26 years old when he won the first of three elections sending him to the Minnesota State Senate.

He was a rising star who left the Capitol to become president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

He left that job to lobby and practice law.

Then the tale goes dark.

In 2004 Win was sent to federal prison for failing to pay income taxes for six years. By the time the government was through with him, he owed more than $200,000 and spent more than a year behind bars.

Now back in the farmhouse - his marriage over and his money gone - Win blames the unraveling of his life on a combination of procrastination, alcoholism, and a mind that a psychiatrist once compared to a camera missing some of its film.

"It happened quite naturally," he says about his failure to pay his taxes

Of course, "naturally" is different for a man who remembers the time he introduced himself, in a crowded room, to his own son. It wasn't the first time. He remembers, years earlier, introducing himself to his mother too.

But now, back in the farmhouse, Win Borden can finally let his interesting mind wander with purpose.

Urged on my an acquaintance, Win created a Facebook page - since discovered by nearly 5000 friends who follow his daily musings about country cooking, trees and the wildlife that share his farm

He also writes of his conversations with his sassy wood stove. "Sometimes she will call me up short. 'Enough,' she says, 'Go to bed." Win laughs.

Lately the stove has been showing her warmer side, as Win shares with his readers his battle with cancer. It started in his kidney and has spread to his lymph nodes.

In one recent Facebook entry the strove noted, "I read your journal last night. Yesterday you wrote only four words: 'Too sick to write.' I hope you're going to do better today." Win assures the stove he will.

The human mind is an interesting creature. Win Borden's finally seems to be at peace in the solitude of a Crow Wing County farmhouse.

With 5000 of his friends.


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