Learning to love swamps, even the dismal ones

Another northern Minnesota fall brings me to the family hunting shack in Greaney, a scrubby stretch of land near Cook and Orr. Most folks would get there on Highway 53, but I live north of Nashwauk. That means I get there by cutting across the back roads of Itasca and Koochiching counties, through the ghost… Read More →

Moving mountains for an Iron Range future

Soon the Hull Rust Mine View in historic North Hibbing will be closed for good, set to reopen next year at a new location to the east. Shortly thereafter Hibbing Taconite will blow to bits the very mountain of taconite on which the viewing stand sits to send the iron ore on its way to… Read More →

Then and Now: how our economy changed

The wealthiest member of the first Roman triumvirate, Gen. Marcus Licinius Crassus, was so rich that his enemies made a show of pouring molten gold down his throat. Today, you could fill a Roman legion with Americans who are richer than Crassus. Killing them with gold would be a logistical nightmare that only they could… Read More →

100 years later, the Power of stories

Lately I’ve been imagining the cadence of Victor Power’s overshoes across the sidewalks of North Hibbing in 1915, the boom of his voice across the street to the people he knew. I’ve been picturing the smooth motion of his oratory gestures, the quick, sly smile that set him apart from other politicians. We can’t hear… Read More →

Summer’s labor lost

This was the summer that never happened. Oh, sure, the sun warmed our backs. The days stretched long. We ate a watermelon and dipped our toes in the lake. The summer “happened”; we just weren’t *relaxed* for more than a few hours of it. It was like waiting for a repairman to arrive at any… Read More →

Good girl, Daisy

People blame many problems on the internet. Email scams. A lack of civility in political discourse. Naughty naked people and bad medical advice. But for me the biggest way the internet affected my life is the fact that my wife Christina can view dogs available for adoption anywhere in the country, all day long. She… Read More →

Unwanted fish ready for the ‘gauntlet’

ANNOUNCER: … in other news, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its plan to block the advance of invasive Asian carp through the locks and dams of American rivers to the Great Lakes. The plan combines new lock engineering, complex noise, water jets, and electric barriers to turn back the carp. The scheme also… Read More →

Fear itself: a backyard tragedy

During a storm last winter, a pine bough fell on the chain link fence in our backyard. The tree mangled the fence, but failed to knock it down. Bending it back together as best we could we figured we’d get to fixing the fence sometime next summer. Summer came, but the fence remained broken. Projects… Read More →

Pinning hopes to billions we don’t have

Let us, for a moment, suspend the old debate about mining projects in Northern Minnesota. You know the one. Jobs vs. the Environment. “Twin Citiots don’t care about us” vs. “Dumb Rangers don’t know what’s good for them.” I’ve long argued this as a false choice. It distracts from the real problem in Northern Minnesota’s… Read More →

My life of unintentional slapstick comedy

When I was 5, I tripped off the “motor skills” balance beam at kindergarten roundup like a sack of turds. My life took a certain direction from that point. Books, not basketball. College, not CrossFit. The question became not if, but when I would expose myself as a near constant threat to anything breakable, myself… Read More →