Author: LindaLee

Morning Feature: Mining (not in my backyard) & talking with Fred

My backyard, for the summers, is a small town in the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota. I am one portage away from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a spectacular setting that gives us access to nature without motors or cell phones or any of the distractions of ‘civilization.’ It is a space in which to connect with your spirit and let it sing with the loons, soar with the eagles and dance with the northern lights. It is an area whose early jobs were mining and logging. The people who are from here are pioneers in the sense that they came and survived the long winters and buggy summers. When mining as an industry disappeared, some small towns set out to reinvent themselves. The creation of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) gave rise in Ely (population about 3,600) to outfitters and guided trips. It created a small tourism industry and stores that cater to the people who seek to explore the wilderness by providing clothing and gear and renting canoes and kayaks. (Will Steger and Paul Schurke  the polar explorers live here). Sigurd Olson, famed naturalist, was a teacher/professor at the local Community College. Throughout Ely’s history there has been tension between the jobs that mining provided (high paying, union jobs) and those who wanted to protect the natural environment. The tension still exists today. This...

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Furthermore! – How to catch a worm.

It takes a worm to catch a fish but there are many ways to catch a worm. One can stop by Babe’s Bait and Tackle in town and buy worms in little Styrofoam containers not unlike what soup comes in at a city deli. Babe can also tell you where what fish are biting and the walls are covered with photos of people and the fish they have caught, so there’s plenty of inspiration. Worms (not night crawlers, but worms) can also be dug up or found by lifting rocks up and finding them underneath. Sending the boy scouts out to find worms is good for an afternoon and teaches self-reliance, or something. A group of ten-year-old boys stopped by my campsite to ask me where the worms were. When I said, under the rocks, I could tell they thought I was kidding. So I told them to “pick a rock, any rock, and lift it up. (Groucho Marx voice used) Then I had some serious credibility as everyone found a worm. Cute kids. My favorite story on how to catch a worm involves Allison who was camping with a host of women from her family. She was with her Mom, Grandmas, Aunts and cousins which is pretty special all by itself. Many of the women had fished for years and this annual trip was a tradition. Allison knew...

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Furthermore! – Fishing as religion

Fishing is a sort of religion in Minnesota. Instead of taking up a collection, as is common with many religions, the church of the fishers takes your money at any number of outdoor stores, bait and tackle shops, hardware stores and even gas stations. Minnesota’s license plates proclaim it to be the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” It is a religion to which I come late in life. I lived on a lake in Minnesota for 25 years and my idea of teaching my sons to fish was to take a box of cheez its and a net down to the dock and scatter the crackers and scoop up the fish in the net, see the fish, let the fish go- my version of catch and release. They both had snoopy fishing poles as kids, but given the amount of untangling required and the sibling rivalry, I replaced the idea of hooks with the much less lethal wine corks. With my attitudes towards fishing I would have automatically been eliminated  from the “Minnesota Mom of the Year” competition. Did I mention that I find fish slimy and wiggly and therefore scary and unpredictable? Did I mention that many who subscribe to this religion insist that the people who catch fish must also clean them? Way too far into the purist scale for me. My ex was a fisher but for...

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Furthermore! – “Thanks for the lesson”

When my oldest son was 8 years old he wanted and got a unicycle.  He had seen clowns in a local parade, juggling balls while riding their unicycles and he was intrigued.  Since he had already learned to juggle, he figured this was step two to getting himself into the parade. Wanting to be in a parade was never one of my goals, but I figured, hey, everybody’s different. Most things came easily to this kid and when they didn’t he wasn’t patient with himself or the process. I needed a way to not only help him learn to ride to unicycle, but to make it at least tolerable if not pleasant for me. I hoped also to teach him a bit of patience. I, by the way, cannot ride a unicycle. Here was the set-up:  Peter, I will stay out here with you for as long as it takes you to learn if you agree to one condition, “Every time you fall off, and you will fall while you’re learning, you have to say, ‘Thanks for the lesson’.”  No complaining, no blaming, just “Thanks for the lesson.” The first twenty or so “Thanks for the lessons” were grumpy and revealed a great deal of frustration on his part. He looked at me and said, “Well Mom, you didn’t say I had to mean it, did you?”  But he...

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Morning Feature: The government has drowned

The government has drowned in the bathtub It was on the news and all over cable a while ago. BREAKING NEWS, the government has drowned in the bathtub. CPR did not revive her and we are on our own. There were cheers from some people and stunned silence from others.  The people who were cheering were quite giddy. The 13,794 (2009) lobbyists were in a state of shock. The 58 million people on social security were crying, as were the 20 million who work for various parts of the government.  The 1.3 Million in armed forces and the 674K support people did not hear the news right away. My life has been interesting since then. The good news is that I don’t pay any taxes.  As someone once said, “It’s your money and you can spend it more wisely than the government.”  I’d really like to have a word with that man. The other small piece of good news is that there are NO more irritating ads on TV for people running for elected office. Let me tell you what life has been like… The first few days were a little chaotic while all of us coped with more change than we could ever have imagined.  The electricity stayed on, but being that they were no longer a regulated utility my rates tripled. Some corporation with one of those...

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