Seeds of hope despite the odds

Well, it finally happened. I talked to the beans.  Gardening does not come naturally to me. I was raised on my family’s junkyard where vegetation grew mostly out of spite, certainly without the aid of human hands. But in recent years I’ve taken over the role of household gardener from my wife after she classified… Read More →

Making sense of horses

Early in my teaching career I invited my community college students to introduce themselves on the first day of class. One young woman said, “I’m a horse person.” For some inexplicable reason this made no sense to me. “Horse person?” I replied incredulously. “Yes,” she said. “Horse.” “Yeah.” “Person.” “That’s right.” “Like, a centaur?” I… Read More →

Veritas et scientia: e pluribus unum

Graduation day approaches for five northeastern Minnesota community and technical colleges. And as it so happens, this will be the last graduation day before the beginning of a new era in the region’s long tradition of higher education. The festivities start Tuesday, May 10, when commencement takes place at Vermilion Community College in Ely. Vermilion… Read More →

When the road is off

It occurs to me, for all the rugged off-roading we see in television ads, we never see a vehicle driving down a gravel road in northern Minnesota just before the frost thaws. There’s a reason for that. These magical pickup trucks and all-terrain sport utility vehicles seem to work just fine spraying a perfect wave… Read More →

Awesome ‘Blossom’ shows Hibbing memory in ‘Jeopardy’

You might remember the old Zimmy’s restaurant on Howard Street in Hibbing. Boomtown is there now, but for several decades this was a bar and grill that paid tribute to Hibbing’s hometown singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. For years, the only picture in the place that didn’t include Bob Dylan was a framed, autographed headshot of the… Read More →

Legacy visions in Bob Dylan’s hometown

Just after World War II, Abram and Beatty Zimmerman moved their family from Duluth back to Beatty’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. But not really.  Beatty’s real hometown had been destroyed. The houses were ripped away; brick buildings scrapped. In 24-hour shifts, machines stripped away the earth below like flesh from the bone. Men dynamited solid… Read More →

Small dose of hope on the television

The John Prine song, “Spanish Pipedream,” contains a legendary piece of advice, delivered by a topless dancer to a wayward soldier crossing the Canadian border. Prine begins, in the voice of the sage stripper, “Blow up your TV.” The song goes on from there, but the gist is that by ditching the modern distractions and… Read More →

What’s in this stuff of life?

Washing out an empty container of Country Crock Light the other night I took time to read the sides of the tub. To be honest, it was difficult to tell what the product actually is at first.  I mean, I know what it “is.” Fake butter. Fewer calories than butter, which is why it’s in… Read More →

Our future’s half full glass

One particularly amusing online cartoon, though a bit crass, features three anthropomorphic drinking glasses sitting in a row. The first one, a happy fellow, says, “I’m half full.” The second slightly more dour chap says, “I’m half empty.” The third, in complete consternation, shouts, “I think this is p…!” Well, let’s just say it’s another… Read More →

A higher angle of light

Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weatherman portrayed by comedian George Carlin, once offered the only fully accurate forecast: “Dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.” You can quibble about cold and warm, snow or rain, but you can’t argue with the rotation of the earth on its wobbly axis. Our dog Daisy knows… Read More →