The world changed and it’s not changing back

The iron mines run hot. Houses sell fast. Cars and trucks fly off the dealership lots, to the point where some customers must wait to buy one at all. Anyone raised amid the booms and busts of the Mesabi Iron Range would recognize this as a boom. And yet, dissatisfaction oozes from local dialogue. The… Read More →

Our awkward summer of smells

We’re bracing for something unusual right now: the prospect of a normal summer. The global COVID-19 pandemic went on long enough that the weirdness of it began to feel routine. Now we each must adjust, again, back to a life similar to our old one.  The first thing I’m noticing is smell. Wearing a mask… Read More →

And fate shall dwell at the crossroads

The intersection of Itasca County Highways 57 and 336 is one of those sleepy crossroads you see all over the back woods of northern Minnesota. When my wife and I moved to that neighborhood 16 years ago I learned that no road goes directly from one place to another. Every highway leads to an intersection… Read More →

Love, hate, and a year of Bob Dylan

EDITOR’S NOTE: I wrote another piece about Dylan’s 80th Birthday for the Minnesota Reformer a few days ago. That piece was designed for a broader audience, while I aimed this one at a more local readership for the Mesabi Tribune. It was a surprisingly fun exercise to approach the same subject with a different goal… Read More →

Pressure, time, and the tricky business of hope

Pressure and time. That’s how minerals concentrate into ore formations beneath the earth. You might learn this in a geology class. But pressure and time also explain how humans extract those ores. Now we’re talking economics, the kind that affects our lives here on the Mesabi Iron Range. This spring brings an avalanche of news… Read More →

‘The Ocho’ lives, but numbers can lie

Most folks get the idea behind the state legislature or Congress. We are all drawn into districts based on population. Each district elects representatives to make laws and speak on our behalf. If we don’t like the representative we vote them out for a new one. Most of the time, we pay little attention to… Read More →

Deadline or bust

“Deadline” is such a harsh word. “Line” seems to imply a fixed point after which some consequence is realized. And “dead” suggests that the consequence is death. You know, pass away, croak, kick the bucket, go to heaven, expire, breathe one’s last, succumb, bite the dust, trip the light fantastic. Depart, transcend, buy the farm,… Read More →

The early swing for spring

They shouldn’t even schedule youth baseball games until it’s safe to plant your garden outside. Aren’t they pretty much the same thing?  Yeah, your kid can put on a sweatshirt, but so can your vegetables. That doesn’t make it a good use of our time. If you wait long enough the frost will let up…. Read More →

The way we were

About 13 months ago I packed a bag from my office to teach and work from home. It would prove to be one of the most challenging years of my whole career as a college teacher and writer, but I really didn’t need most of what I put in that bag. A few notebooks, maybe…. Read More →

Gearing for a century in spin

In recent weeks my wife and I have been thinking about buying a car. We haven’t decided on one, nor are we in a hurry, but it’s been fascinating to research different vehicles.  Being from the Iron Range I always think about where cars are made before buying one. In the case of modern cars,… Read More →