The joyful annoyances of a winter thaw

Winter is not over. I hold no illusions about that. On social media, people post scenes from some tropical vacation, each escaping the long gestation of the elusive Northern Minnesota spring. But we’ve got a winter thaw this week. The skies shine platinum and it’s probably not safe to keep mayonnaise in your car anymore…. Read More →

The union for now: Labor at the crossroads

Regardless of your opinion about organized labor, or whether you’re in a union yourself, the labor movement now faces its most tenuous challenge in more than a century. Politically, there is this. According to a Feb. 1 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal story, Vice President Mike Pence conferred with Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin in late January. They… Read More →

The universal solution to poverty?

It comes down to whether you think we can solve problems at all. Will we succumb to the psychological ease of hoping our political “side” gains permanent power, an outcome that assures corruption and stagnation? Or are we willing to lend our support to new ideas? Will we patiently experiment, replacing ideas that don’t work… Read More →

Why we need work, not just ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’

Last November, President Trump polled well in the once-venerated Democratic stronghold of the Mesabi Iron Range. I pin this to the issue of “jobs.” Specifically, I credit the fundamental belief baked into our culture that those who work for pay are superior to those who don’t or can’t. People here have lost jobs, or fear… Read More →

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 →

The necessary drama of transition

As divisive as these times may be, at least Donald Trump won’t be sneaking into Washington, D.C., on a midnight train like Abraham Lincoln. After the election of 1860 Lincoln became the most anti-slavery president since John Quincy Adams a generation earlier. Six slave states immediately seceded from the Union, while others threatened to join… Read More →

Building faith in free people

As 2016 rolled to a close, the musician George Michael died — one of many celebrity deaths that turned social media into a sea of crocodile tears. I wasn’t particularly connected to Michael or his music, but I grew up in the generation that watched his butt wiggle on TV as he sang “gotta’ have… Read More →

Oracle of Sax-Zim Bog warns of 2017 dangers

The beaver wears a pinstriped suit. That’s how I know things have changed in the swamp. This year’s visit to the Oracle of the Sax-Zim Bog will be unlike any before. Until now, my New Year’s journey to the Oracle had wound through the frozen marsh like the familiar bends of Stony Creek. The Oracle’s… Read More →

On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas

Hail, hail Christmas morning! The family gathers around the tree to behold the fruits of Santa Claus’s labor. The stockings spew forth troves of sugar and plenty. The spirit of giving crescendos as we exchange gifts selected with care, or that were perhaps on sale. RIP RIP WOW RIP RIP AHHHH RIP RIP THANK YOU!… Read More →

Evergreen with envy

Even in the distant North Woods of Minnesota you can’t avoid our long cultural obsession with “the holidays.” By now, those of you who celebrate have likely put up your Christmas trees. The Noel tradition of decorating an evergreen tree inside the home dates backs centuries, even before Christianity itself. To discuss this tradition, today… Read More →