A dog’s love and loss, all in a lifetime

“It’s inevitable when you buy the pet. You’re supposed to know it in the pet store. You are purchasing a small tragedy.” ~George Carlin Every pet owner tells the story of picking out their dog. They go to the animal shelter. Walk the rows of kennels. Maybe stop at a house with puppies. “I want… Read More →

The heat is on; the lawn is long

Last week a viral online image showed a man in Alberta, Canada mowing his lawn as a sizable tornado spun across the sprawling horizon behind him. “I was keeping an eye on it,” said Theunis Wessels of Three Hills, a small town on the Alberta plains. Though the picture made the tornado look close, it… Read More →

A dad’s triumphant return to baseball ignominy

Something holy emanates from the crack of a baseball bat against a stitched leather ball. Doesn’t matter if the bat is aluminum or wood. That sound represents the unlikely collision of two round objects hurled toward each other by competing athletes. Ball and bat. Pitcher and hitter. Thunder and lightning. Two forces deeply connected, yet apart…. Read More →

Minnesota’s summer clock more ticks than tocks

I’ve heard a version of the following statement from several different people this year: “I’m not worried about lightning, thunderstorms or tornados, but I am worried about ticks.” This from the hearty meat-and-potatoes stock of Northern Minnesota, people who chip ice off their beards to eat food they killed with a crossbow. You know it’s got… Read More →

Hibbing native: save the world, eat bugs

If we’re being honest, we’ve all eaten a bug at one time or another. I’ve dined on a few pedaling my bike across the back roads of Northern Minnesota. And never mind how many crawl into our mouths at night without us knowing. Yet not many of us eat insects on purpose. Our parents told us… Read More →

School’s out for fish: hook, line and existentialism

This weekend brings Minnesota’s fishing opener, Mother’s Day, and the beginning of graduation season. These annual events affect us all, but none so much as local fish. Thus, today’s play in three acts. We begin in the weeds: FISH: Mother! Oh, mother, I am to graduate! MOTHER: Who are you? FISH: It is I, your… Read More →

The good ship Taconite, flagship of empire built on Mesabi Range profits

For just shy of $1.3 million you could be the owner of yacht currently docked near Vancouver, British Colombia. Made of virgin teak, this century-old wooden pleasure ship has been on the market a couple years. Apparently, today’s oligarch-on-the-go simply doesn’t have the time to maintain such an antique. I can distinctly recall my father’s frustration trying to restore… Read More →

As words change amid Info Age, ‘Truth’ rises to the top

Every time we use a word we create a small, rapidly vaporizing artifact of a time, a place, and its people. That’s why language is the cornerstone of any culture. Each year I report on the annual list of top words from the Global Language Monitor in Austin, Texas. I spoke with Paul JJ Payack,… Read More →

To build Iron Range economic hopes we must keep working


The steam cloud pouring out of the stack at Keewatin Taconite once again guides my daily commute from the wilds of Itasca County into Hibbing. For nearly two years, the eastern sky bore only the unforgiving blaze of the sun. Now fluffy white billows remind that hundreds of miners are back at work. Unfortunately, KeeTac’s… Read More →

Power poles like fingers to the sky

They’re putting in new power poles along the county highway near our dirt road in Balsam Township. The old poles, faded grey, lean askew like the bright orange temporary fence that tries and fails to prevent people taking a short cut to the portable toilets at a tractor show. The new poles lay alongside the… Read More →