Too Much in Common

Per capita, small-town residents know more fellow residents than city dwellers know their community members. While perspectives and political issues are conscious choices, by and large, a sense of community seeps into hearts and minds of small-town folk without decision or weighing the benefits. On the edge of the wilderness, it’s a subconscious necessity that just happens.
The principle extends to a variety of elements in life. For instance, it helps us regulate behaviors like road rage.

The Truth about Magic

I looked right through it. Beyond bedtime on a December 24th sometime within my first eight or so years of life, I caught them red-handed. My parents, grandparents and great-grandmother had taken over Santa’s responsibilities right there in the living room.
I had gone to bed but wasn’t sleeping even though I wanted to. Considerable holiday enthusiasm and experience had versed me in bedtime protocol: Santa’s arrival is quicker when sleep consumes the night. But my wandering mind decided on a stop to the bathroom.

Ravens' Hymnal

For the first time in a while, some deer walked near my stand when I was actually there. Seeing them was like a celebrity sighting. Somehow, we closed the gap between our distances in everyday life and I was close enough for a look. I never saw their bodies in-full all at once. But a few windows through the branches offered good views as they walked through. Little did they know I was there. Two does, nice size with healthy hides. If they were bucks, they wouldn’t have been legal. There was too much brush between us for shooting.
The snow keeps no secrets.

Good Hunting?

I met a father, son and labradoodle named “Bo” on the logging road where I deer hunt. They were grouse hunting and I was laying groundwork for deer season. They lived in the Twin Cities, and as hunters will do, we immediately started yakking about the prospects for harvest this year. The dad asked me if deer hunting in the area was any good. My first response was “no” and it wasn’t to keep them from showing up at my deer stand two weeks later.
Initially, my answer was based on what I estimated to be their definition of good deer hunting.

New Pony

We’ve got a new pony in the driveway. After 21 years, our Chevy Blazer called it a career. The new one is a 2014 Silverado, shiny black and really sweet. However, a vehicle purchase once every couple of decades leaves my auto awareness off kilter. From cost to gizmos, I lose sight of what to expect.
We’re not whistles and bells kind of people. But even the basic work-truck version we bought came with a few. I’ve had to make some adjustments.
I don’t see the point in keyless power entries. I’m good with walking up to the door.

North Woods Memorial

The crying ended and the celebration began. Church was rough.
This was the opposite.
The banquet hall beside the lake spoke to 100 years of weddings, graduations, and Hook & Bullet fundraisers. It was a spacious log structure built to take a licking. Ancient moose antlers adorned the doorsill above the entryway. Framed textile images of boreal landscapes charmed the walls. Box fans whirred in every other window to cool the place down.
A three-board photo display of the honoree stood on a folding table beside the front side door.

Resupply of Optimism

I’m fortunate to know some people coming up from behind who wear their hearts on their sleeves. There’s the team at Ely Outfitting Company where I drive shuttles in summer. My job is to transport paddlers and their outdoor gear to and from wilderness entry points in the Boundary Waters. The work also doubles as a great way to collect ideas for stories. But with these co-workers, their energy and optimism are the story.

Garden Grunt

There’s a certain pleasure in being grunt labor for a garden. For one, it doesn’t involve much thinking. My wife, DyAnne, is the gardener in our family and she works out the math behind the plants. Occasionally, I’ll throw in a suggestion about fertilizer. Life doesn’t get more basic than assessing effective shit.
For another, I get to mess with power tools and play in the dirt. We just got a new tiller that required assembly. I’m an instruction-follower and I don’t know why.

Fiction Comes from Somewhere

Quality art is meant to be experienced in perpetuity. The good stuff unfailingly renders deeper elements that might have previously gone unnoticed, do well to experience again or offer significance to the context of our current circumstances. Such is the case with the television series Northern Exposure.
My wife, DyAnne, and I just finished our annual Northern Exposure party. It’s a weekend-long affair that began as a single-day event with family when the series was in its heyday.

I Am the Puck

When adults get to reminiscing about sports heroes from their youth, they often ooze with cliché and sensationalism. The story of Ruth and Gehrig promising homeruns to a kid in his hospital bed made it to Hollywood. One of mine only made it as far as a parking lot. But to me, it’s no less sensational.
I recently read a story in the New York Times about Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks giving his game-worn jersey to a kid after the team won the 1961 Stanley Cup.
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