Only local birds

I live on a quiet little hill above a swamp at the end of a long dirt road in the woods. The nearest stoplight stands some 27 miles away. Out here, it’s easy to feel lonely. Or at least it seemed that way when we moved from town almost 20 years ago. Time, however, revealed… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown: Top Posts of 2023

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? That old philosophical query runs through my mind as I pose a new question: if a writer stops tracking his web traffic, does anyone read what he wrote? Of course, the answer is that I think so, but can’t… Read More →

Raise the blue flags of summer

“I am an old woman,” sings John Prine in his classic song “Angel from Montgomery.” She’s full of desire but has no way to leave. “The years just flow by like a broken down dam.” John Prine songs always relate to specific people and feelings. And lately, I relate to the idea that the years… Read More →

New disc golf course in Balsam Township

Please indulge a proud dad moment. Our oldest son Henry Brown was featured on WDIO News last night for his Eagle Scout project. Raising almost $7,000 in cash and in-kind donations, with the help of 24 volunteers, Henry built a nine-hole disc golf course at Balsam Community Park near our home in the woods. He… Read More →

Seeking normalcy one year into pandemic

So, let’s not sugar coat this. I’ve been working from home for almost a year. And while I like my home and have everything I need to do my job here, I am starting to notice signs that this year has affected me in many poorly understood ways. We’ve been trying to help prevent the… Read More →

Sabotaging the mail harms democracy and rural life

When you grow up in the country you form a special relationship with the mail. Back at our family’s junkyard in Zim my sisters and I would fight over who got to run up the driveway to get the mail each day. One time I almost got hit by a truck because I lurched for… Read More →

Mail voting safe, secure and simple

The first time I voted in a general election I was lying on a set of dorm room sheets that wouldn’t be washed until spring. Cigarette dangling from my lips, I marked my ballot for Jesse “The Body” Ventura as Minnesota’s next governor. Democracy prevailed. However you gauge the wisdom of my first ballot, it… Read More →

Sometimes it freezes in April

I walk every day, one of a few good habits that augment my shortcomings. Today, as I often do, I walked up the county road by my house toward the Prairie River. The river flooded its banks last week. It always does this time of year. I’ve seen it higher, but not by much. Acres… Read More →

New urgency for rural broadband

My family and I live down a long dirt road in rural Itasca County. Mud season reminds us of the challenges of rural life and the thin tendon joining our home to civilization. This world seems even farther away during the coronavirus pandemic sweeping our nation and the world, but it’s still there. We still… Read More →

Iron Range in isolation: talking COVID-19

Last week I appeared on KAXE with Heidi Holtan talking about the COVID-19 situation on the Mesabi Iron Range. Check it out. This was my first radio appearance since being sheltered in place with my family here in the woods of northern Minnesota. We make a couple trips to town each week for groceries and… Read More →