Hook and Bullet Club

The first day of March and we went looking for signs of spring.
Our friends at the National Weather Service said it was the first day of meteorologic spring. Of course they told us the other day it was going to go from -18 degrees in the morning to 40 in the afternoon. When I questioned this on Twitter, I got a great response: “We’re marketing, Mother Nature handles production.”
Marketing or not the calendar tells us we’re closer to the walleye opener every day. But fishing wasn’t the plan for the day, I wanted to get Mary out to the shack so she could see the change in the scenery.
This past winter the area around us was logged off. After 20 years of seeing the same trees we can now see a lot farther in nearly every direction.
“Wow!’ She said as we came up to the driveway.
“You sure can see a long ways away now.”


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

As we get older, the things you take for granted growing up begin to cast doubt on everyday living. One thing I find cheery are office visits from old friends such as Gary Niskala. He says he plans to keep working another nine years in the airplane industry.
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Some folks are still sending in their renewal payment with their likes in the Echo noted. When you live away from your Ely grandchildren as the Whytes do, your favorite is “seeing my grandchildren in different activities.”
The Native Son is a popular column, and it’s a shame that health issues have kept Charlie Novak from writing.
Other favorites worthy of mention by readers are: Sports and school news, Editorial Page, Progress edition Trout Whisperer, Miscellaneous Drawer and the O’Clock interviews.
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Ode to an extra day

You know that old poem?
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year
In honor of leap year, I’d like to expand on it:
An extra day, but I’d like to know
Why put it in a month with snow?
And another thing, what’s the reason
It’s always during campaign season?
Leap day wasn’t created to give candidates one more day to campaign, but that is one of its drawbacks. We really have it because the solar year, the time required for the sun to make one complete cycle of the seasons, is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. In other words, we start every year almost six hours too early just so we won’t have to stay up until 6 a.m. to see the New Year in.


Pelican brief - Snowy day at the Library

February 10, 2020
Our cabin on Little Long Lake is the perfect place to be on a snowy day in February. But on this day, John, and our cocker spaniel, Sabrina, are enjoying all the splendid peace and quiet of that cozy cabin ambiance…with the snow flurries falling fast and furious onto the lake and forest outside. A man and his dog…John is the Man of the House today, as he catches up on office work from his business trip back to Florida this past week.
Perfect time for me to slide away into town to our beautiful Ely Public Library, to do some “reading, writing and arithmetic,” and to walk Sheridan and Chapman and Central streets where art work is hung in the shop windows with care, in hopes that the townspeople soon will be there!! These are the days of the Ely Winter Festival.


Love, Honor…and Make You See Things My Way

This year, I’m going to give my Valentine the best gift of all: understanding. And by that I mean, his understanding of me. Instead of a card, I’m giving him this letter explaining why I do what I do. Try it yourself. It’s a nice way to help your partner hear your side without having to listen to theirs.
Dear Valentine,
Our marriage has lasted these many years because we agree on politics, religion and the generous use of garlic and onions in family meals. But there are a few smaller issues that have troubled us, and as my gift to you, I’m taking the time now to explain my side so you’ll know why I’m right. Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day.
1. It’s true I have a peculiar tendency to leave cupboard doors open, giving the impression that someone broke in and ransacked the place looking to steal our Tupperware. I know this annoys you, but it’s such a waste of time to close a door I’m just going to have to open again in a day or two.


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

The Norge Ski Club’s international winter ski jumping tournament returns for its 115th year. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, those years “included shipping snow to the site when area snowfall was scarce.”
The Fox River Grove club is known as “the oldest, continuously open ski club in the United States. The club was started in 1905 by a group of Norwegian men. Most lived in Chicago.” To make ski jumping available year around the club “purchased a new ski tower from Ely, Minnesota.”
Those were the days in Ely when ski jumping was a popular sport and attracted competitors from Canada and beyond.
It all makes sense to me.
My dad was a ski jumper growing up in the Glenwood/Starbuck area. He didn’t jump in Illinois, but he followed the sport. After WWII he bought Army-surplus cross country skis, but I don’t remember him or my siblings using them.
Ice skating was a different matter. We had our own winter rink in the side yard and we all skated.


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

by Anne Swenson
I owe an apology, not only to visitors of 2 East Sheridan (an earlier Ely Echo HQ), but more especially, to my family. There really is no excuse for smoking.
At the old Echo, everyone but Jeanne Tome, Pam Roberts, Tom Coombe and Nick Wognum smoked. The building reeked of cigarette smoke. A haze was often seen over the desks of Mary, Vic, Bob and me.
Worse yet was smoking at home with both Warren and me smoking. Looking back I realize what a burden it was to Nick, Sandy and my Mom.
I learned to smoke in college, but it took until the 1970s for it to become a four-pack-a-day habit. Though many a cig burned out untouched in an ashtray, it was still too much. Sometime in the ’90s I finally quit.
Growing up, cigarette smoking was in movies, magazines and billboards. It purported to be the sophisticated thing to do and I got hooked. Kicking it was hard to do, but I succeeded.


Hook and Bullet Club

If you don’t own or drive a snowmobile you may not be aware of what it takes to make a top-notch trail system.
In the Ely area we have three groups working on trails, the clubs (Ely Igloo, Babbitt Snowmobile & ATV and the Vermilion Penguins in Tower).
Those clubs take care of miles and miles of trails. They own grooming tractors, drags and snowmobiles used to keep trails in top shape. Some have paid employees, some volunteer, it all comes together to make the trails great.
The Minnesota DNR takes care of the Taconite (Ely to Grand Rapids) and the Arrowhead (Tower to International Falls) trails. There has been a big turnover in employees there but it sounds like the grooming skills have now been passed to the new group of employees.
Groomer operators are often out on the trails in the middle of the night. That’s when the traffic is the least and it lets the snow set up and harden so the trails stay smoother for longer periods of time.


Trout Whisperer - Needing some fluff

It’s an extremely pastoral setting. Snow is falling outside, the big floaty flake kind. We have nowhere to go because we‘re there. The fire inside is glowing red orange warm coals. A very snoozy golden retriever is lying prone in front of the hearth.
He is at one side of the bench, I’m on the other, we’re not racing, but it’s a competition to see who can tie up the most flies before the other guy.
We started out with a really easy one, muddler minnows, with whitetail deer hair, a blob of deer hair, wind, wind, wind, tie-off, a drop of glue, trim, and on to the next one. I stomped him on the muddlers.
Next up, we did one of my personal favorites the “Mcginty.” When you’re done it looks just like a bumblebee and the dual lacing of the black and yellow chenille is fun to me, and having done them many years now, I just don’t think he stood a chance. Round two went solidly to me.


Hook and Bullet Club

There’s a logging operation taking place near Camp Cholesterol this winter. Evan and I have been out there to check it out and see what the “new” hunting grounds look like.
We agree there will definitely be opportunities for longer shots. Going to need to dial up the scopes.
After 20 years of hunting in that area we were ready for a change. A forest needs logging to renew periodically (and a lot better than fire).
When we started there was an area we called the “Christmas trees.” It was a stand of planted Norway where the trees were maybe five feet tall. Now they are closer to 20 feet up.
There have been several logging operations and each has provided new opportunities. We’ve relocated deer stands and adapted to the changes.
Seeing the large cut this year closes a 20-year chapter and opens a new one. Will the deer use this area as they did in the past? Only time will tell.


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