The cold comfort of adulthood

Everything is easy until you open the door. That’s true of life, but especially winter in Northern Minnesota. After Christmas, winter becomes an extended stay in a Residence Inn. We already know what keeps in the hotel fridge, how long to microwave the popcorn, the cost of every item in the vending machine. Our only enemy… Read More →

Rawr: ‘Cougar’ catfight stirs controversy

Last week, a young hunter perched in his deer stand near Nashwauk got the story of a lifetime without even firing a shot. Here’s the description from an article by Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: I wasn’t there, but I know this: Jordan Bowen saw a big wildcat try to attack a deer. The… Read More →

Grandpa has something to tell Grandma

Gray skies hang low over the idled Keewatin Taconite plant. I meet my grandpa, Marv Johnson, at the very busy Sinclair gas station. We’re on a secret mission. “Too crowded,” he says. I peek around the corner at the gas station’s only table and chairs. Several townsfolk stare back like whitetail deer. Grandpa’s already back… Read More →

On Swedish (American) Egg Coffee

If you spend enough time around older Scandinavian-Americans in Minnesota they eventually tell you about Swedish Egg Coffee. Then they make you drink it. They will not let you leave or change the subject until you agree that it is better than “regular” coffee. What is Swedish Egg Coffee? Don’t overthink it. It’s coffee brewed… Read More →

On ‘Clarence’ and wallets filled with gravity

My kids like to watch a show called “Clarence” on Cartoon Network. To be honest, I like it, too. This oddball kid Clarence lives in Aberdale, a suburb of a large city in the American Southwest. His mom is a hair stylist and her boyfriend Chad, Clarence’s father figure, is unemployed. All but one or… Read More →

Dig a mile in another man’s skid steer

As khaki-wearing bloggers go, I interact with a unusually high number of people who operate heavy equipment. These people move dirt for fun and profit using machines that suck diesel fuel the way a dry horse drinks water. I owe part of this to family ties. My Grandpa Brown, now an octogenarian, uses his skid… Read More →

T-bone fever: Tales from a meat raffle

Though humans evolved as omnivores, many people on earth do not eat meat. Early vegetarianism could be found in ancient Greece. Abstinence from animal flesh has been part of Hinduism and Buddhism since the 7th Century BC. One finds vegetarians in many parts of modern society, many swearing by the health benefits and moral authority… Read More →

What makes Minnesota alligators different?

Passers-by found a baby alligator along a bike train near Brainerd earlier this week. A reptile handler from a nearby wildlife center retrieved the creature, the aftermath of which you can see in this YouTube video: Authorities believe it was either someone’s pet that escaped or was released illegally. It’s safe to say that alligators will… Read More →

Clinton vs. Trump: a war within ourselves

It’s July 2016. Donald and Hillary are about to run the race of their lives. I’m referring, of course, to the two hogs who will sprint against each other this Sunday, July 10, as the main event in the Nevis Pig Races in north central Minnesota. It’s hard to say what motivates these cloven-hoofed animal athletes, but one… Read More →

The night Ali lit the torch in Gilbert

I spent most of the summer of 1996 nocturnal. Even though I couldn’t tell you much about those days, the nights seemed hotter and more humid than average. This was Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, a place where winter cold gets more press than the deceptive heat of summer. I was 16. It was my first summer with a driver’s license,… Read More →