COLUMN: Autumn news from the North Country

This is my Sunday column for the Sept. 23, 2012 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune. A version of this piece aired on “Between You and Me” this weekend on 91.7 KAXE.

Autumn news from the North Country
By Aaron J. Brown

There’s a chipmunk near where I wait for my boys to get off the bus every night. He doesn’t like me much. But he sounds like a ticker tape machine from an old time newspaper movie, the kind where everyone is drunk but there’s one guy who’s much, much drunker so everyone is able to justify what is obviously a terrible way to run a newspaper. Anyway, “chit chit chit” says the chipmunk. The autumnal news is coming across the wires.

Leaves across the landscape are falling after the Planet Earth announced it would make its annual axis tilt away from the glowing yellow dwarf star known to insiders as The Sun. Signs had been pointing toward a big leaf spill-off with more than 80 percent of all leaves turning color in the past two weeks.

In other news many local residents believe they are mowing their lawns for the last time. Your annoying neighbor, however advises caution.

“In reality everyone thinks this is the last time now but there is really one more time in October where you have to mow the lawn even though you think you might not need to, but then you think you’ve got the gas and it’ll just go bad in the can over the winter anyway. So, anyway…,” your neighbor continued.

Now to politics. Today a major debate between two longtime foes took place near the basswood tree in the back yard. Dog, at the base of the tree, criticized Squirrel for being high all the time. Squirrel parried by insinuating that Dog rolls around in its own excrement.

DOG (voice over by stoic female translator): “You are not … clean. You are bad. You are squirrel. Furry squirrel like angry pillow. I want to bite.”

SQUIRREL (translated in thick Russian accent): Dog is example of corrupt system in which some like Dog are fed delicious food for doing nothing while hard-working squirrel just wants to collect acorn for winter.

After the debate, Squirrel threw an acorn at Dog before Dog chased Squirrel through a hole in the fence. Nonpartisan observers say the event represented an historic breakdown of civility in the food chain. Meantime, instant polls taken after the debate show that Dog has a higher approval rating, but that voters trust Squirrel more to handle their nuts.

In traffic news, Canadian geese are backed up along the horizon. Migratory birds are preparing their journey to South America. And snowbirds are buying polyester shorts off the clearance rack at Kmart.

Wait, this just in. We are receiving reports that deep frost set in early this morning. The backyard garden has been hit hard. We have with us now a green tomato that turned kind of a weird scarlet color at the top but doesn’t look quite right. Mr. Tomato, what is going on?

TOMATO: “We’re cold, that’s what. Why’s it gotta end like this? Why can’t she a’ put a tarp out on us? We coulda’ made it three more week, maybe four. Now me and my family gotta move to the compost heap cause we can’t stay here no more.”

We have learned from the annoying neighbor that a weed whacker works well in removing dead garden produce. He’s got one. A two-stroke. He adds, quote, “It works real good. Pretty good find at the L&M. They got a lot there, ya know. You ever go there? Ya? I go there lots a times.” End quote.

That’s all for now. Our planet continues to turn away from the life-giving heat of the sun, plunging us into long nights and bitter cold. But at least it’s not so hot anymore. Good sleeping weather.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from the Iron Range. He writes and hosts 91.7 KAXE’s Great Northern Radio Show on public stations.

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