From the miscellaneous drawer - Make a difference

Sitting at the front desk in the Echo office, answering the phone and taking care of subscriptions is the biggest part of my job. What is enjoyable are the people who slip into the chair beside my desk at times and chat.
This summer a number of subscribers have stopped by to talk about the changing newspaper operations in their hometowns around the U.S. There has been a trend of large corporations taking over newspapers and the local touches have too often disappeared. And people miss the local news.
Occasionally I get a phone call wherein people ask me or the Echo to intercede in a local issue or event, to do something about what they deem to be unfair or plain wrong. That’s not an easy thing to do.


Home on the Range - TRADITION

It was tradition, every summer a trip into the “B-Dub” with Dad. Just me, my two younger brothers and our Dad.
These trips were a highlight of our summer, but one year, Dad wasn’t thinking the trip would happen. His back was bad, but we insisted we were capable. At 12, I knew I could carry a fairly heavy pack, and if we had to make a few trips each portage, so be it. Barett, being 8 that summer could carry a small pack and help with a cooler. Ben was 9, but he wanted to carry the canoe. A 19 foot Alumacraft, none of this lightweight fiberglass. He knew he could, and showed Dad one weekend, picked it up, carried it, bobbing along the alley behind dad’s “compartment” as he called his small apartment. Dad was convinced, and the planning commenced.
We had a great trip, the fishing was lousy, but we didn’t care. We got our trip, that’s what mattered.


East of Ely – Legends of the Loon

One of the native tales of the Northern Diver, aka the Common Loon, is a story about a blind elder, who is abandoned by his wife during a caribou hunt. Seeing the old man thrashing about, a loon swims up and takes pity, offering the man a way to regain his sight. The loon tells him to hold onto its back, and after two deep dives into the restorative waters the elder regains his ability to see. In reward, he bestows his shell necklace to the loon, and this is how loons got rings around their necks.
Since native allegories often fall outside the realm of western norms of story telling, there are a few things I’d like to point out about the poignancy of this tale. But rather than interpret the particulars of the tale, I’ll try to show how they fit into the lives of the people in the lake country.


East of Ely – Not a question of if, but when…

Padilla Creek Fire area from old fire tower site on Lookout Road, Oct., 2017


East of Ely – On the Trail to a Remote Mountain

Rookie Overlook on the Fernberg Trail. Photo by David Krikorian


East of Ely – Happy Anniversary BWCA – “W”

Last week in Ely, I saw a young girl wearing a T-shirt that read “BWCA 1964.” That was the year congress passed the Wilderness Act, which was eventually enforced with the passing of the Bill 81-ICA or the BWCAW Act signed by President Carter on October 21, 1978. Funny how the maneuvering that led to the bill’s signing that year foreshadowed today’s congressional freak show.
Some say the late State Rep. Willard Munger drew first blood in 1977 when he stated, “The BWCA lands belongs to all of the people of the United States. In the end, national interests must supersede local concerns.” I admit that I was one of those superseding outsiders back then, as I had no understanding of what had caused some folks from Ely to hang environmentalist effigies off the back of a pickup truck.


Column: Friendship According to Facebook

Friendship According to Facebook
Oh look! I’m having a friendversary today. How thoughtful of Facebook to remember that special day three years ago when “Blanche” and I officially became friends on their site. Now…who’s Blanche again?
You understand. The average Facebook user has 338 friends, and many have far more than that. How can we possibly know them all? Facebook brings to mind that old adage, “There are no strangers here, only friends you have not met yet.”
The saying is credited to the poet William Butler Yeats, who, as you know, was a big fan of Facebook. Unfortunately, he died in 1939, just as it was really taking off.


East of Ely – Just where is Ely, Minnesota?

The Prime Meridian is a line of latitude on the world map determined by a British aristocrat in 1851, which placed his empire at ground zero in relationship to a worldwide economy at the forefront of the Industrial Age. One quarter of the Earth’s circumference to the west sits the City of Ely, Minnesota, located a degree or so left of the fourth principal meridian at -91º plus on your iPhone’s GPS locater. And for those of you who haven’t died of boredom at this point, here are a few notes to ponder.
For starters, the straight-line polar miles from Ely to Moscow, Russia are significantly closer than the distance from Moscow to Washington, D.C. – a trivial fact in today’s terms, but something that may have weight in the not-to-distant future as nations rush to develop newly exposed natural resources in the Arctic.


From the miscellaneous drawer - Different perspective

My good friend Carol Brude would have been 73 this week. I miss her and my piano misses her playing and her talent.
Have you ever seen the Wyeth painting titled “Christina’s World”? In it a young woman, debilitated by polio is seen on a hillside, reaching out helplessly toward the farmhouse where the family lived.
There’s a sorrow about the painting even though her face cannot be seen.
I saw something similar to this recently in real life. Under the portico of a nursing home entrance, a woman in a motorized wheelchair was avoiding entering, her face turned away when assistance was offered.


East of Ely – How our grandkids enable us to see

Our grandson is with us this week, so this column will be shorter than usual. He is nine years old and loves to swim, fish, collect bugs and does pretty much everything that kids do in summer at that age.
We did many of these things yesterday on a day trip to a small crystal-clear lake, fishing for trout, picnicking on a grassy campsite with a long sandy beach that compelled us to stay in the water, where we swatted away deer flies under a sunny eighty-degree sky.
I tried to show him how to catch minnows by burying a hand under the sand as a trap. He was more interested in catching crawfish, so I swam out to take a few casts as he gathered the courage to pick up larger and larger-clawed crawdads, until I swam up to him holding my fishing pole with a nice rainbow on the end of my line.
We waded deeper and took turns casting into the dark water beyond the beach until his grandmother decided to swim across the straight to another campsite.


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