Silence of the Lawns

My wife and I sat down in the backyard clutching two cans of perfectly frosted Hamm’s beer. For early June, the day was scorching hot. I had finished cutting our grass earlier and reached a good stopping point. All other yard chores would wait. We settled in for an evening of quiet inactivity and baseball on the radio.
No sooner had the cold sizzle of beer hit my throat, than our neighbor’s hired grasscutter fired up his supercharged ride’m lawnmower next door.

What's in a Name?

The town is the kind of place where people in the witness protection program go to live. It was exactly what my wife and I needed at the time. Not to vanish from thugs and mobsters, but more to shelter ourselves where no one would follow.
Its name is Buyck, an unincorporated hamlet in Northern Minnesota just a few miles southwest of Canada. Actually, if I trailed a deer there during hunting season, I could have unwittingly crossed the international border…with a loaded gun.

Fish & Visitors

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Fish and visitors stink after three days.” But I’m guessing he’s never been to Ely, Minnesota. Ely’s economy thrives on inviting visitors to fish here for days on end.
In many tourist towns, the early season percolates with excitement. But depending on the town, Franklin’s quote becomes gospel as days wear on and the atmosphere turns ripe.

Resurgent Perspective

I knew I was in trouble when my own dad called me by my last name. Along with being my father, he doubled as my baseball coach. I had just made a disastrous baserunning decision and was thrown out at third, ending not just the game, but the season. I had squelched my team’s chance at our Little League championship. Tail between my legs, I sat down in the dugout beside my teammates as Dad expounded on my oversight for all of us to unmistakably hear.

North of Minnesota Nice

A carload of conniving faces made several slow passes up and down our block a few summers ago. They appeared transfixed on something in our neighbor’s yard across the street when our neighbor wasn’t home. Eventually, they crept to a stop, car doors opened and the pack stepped into broad daylight. The Georgia plates on the bumper belied the lone female passenger who spoke with the British accent. To watch them was to surmise furtive intent.

Voices of the Process

When asked about how he writes songs, Tom Petty said he didn’t really know. He described it as a very real magic that he has to wait for if he’s lucky enough for it to happen. True to his humor and semantic dexterity, he explained it by comparison.
“It’s kind of like an orgasm,” he said. “You don’t know how you did that.”
Not knowing how or why something happened is the core of magic. It tickles the inexplicable, but it’s no less real.

The Evolution of Priorities

My first car was a low-riding, muffler-dragging behemoth tailormade for my grandfather.  The 1972 Chevy Caprice—the largest sedan Chevy had ever manufactured—was just what he ordered.  When he decided to hang up his keys, it became mine for the taking.  I painted it primer grey and named it the Land Shark.
Having developed my highway skills inside a snug Volkswagen Beetle, the Land Shark was a different beast.

Airwave Illusions

Gathered in groups on the gravel track at the foot of the stage, feverishly anticipating the Big-Name Band, someone from this cluster of high school girls needs to get a message to someone from that cluster of high school guys. But the right icebreaker just isn’t coming to mind.
This is a show for the ages. The girls dream to be the chick they’ve never seen from morning radio who will introduce the band.

Cooking Up Fish Tales

Four-foot waves hurled the defenseless canoes about like empty Styrofoam coolers. Torrential rain erased the paddlers from each other’s sight.

The Scariest Thing in the Forest

Renowned fairy tales recently played into a trip my wife, husky and I made to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Our Yellow Brick Road to the entry point was mostly gravel. It was also devoid of lions and tigers, but bears were evident. Dollops of bear scat traversed the road, even on the paved parts. So, in a Hansel and Gretel sort of way, we followed the droppings through the twisting forest trail to our destination.
Wilderness is the very definition of social distance. In these pandemic times, wilderness might be one of the safest places to reside.
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