From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

Saturday started with small snow drops pelting the trees. It hardly covered any part of the driveway and woods.
Now at 3 p.m. the snow is heavier and only a small bit of grass remains showing under the towering trees. Bare branches are now snow laden as are the feathery fronds on pines.
The barn roof may have two inches of snow and road traffic has slowed to a standstill.
If only the emails received from the various politcal parties and individuals would also stop. All are now filed under Junk and tossed away. They makeup about 80 percent of the daily email.
After November 3 will they cease and desist? Is it just me or does this election seem different from others? Truthfully I voted by mail some weeks ago. However, that didn’t stop the political messages nor the plethora of television statements.


From the miscellaneous drawer

You wake up to the sun streaming through the woods and the golden leaves of a deciduous tree brightens the scene.
Are these really the golden years? Although the mind is alert and the self-words of encouragement remain, times have changed.
Dimmed now are days, moments of the past. Memories, once so real, are hard to retrieve.
Did you ever surprise your parents when you were but a child? Did you live in or hide in some place special to you?
There are so many instances which were golden, and are still part of your being. There are people you recall who reached out to you and perhaps your neighborly good deed brightened someone’s day.
Each time of our lives is golden and should generate pride in ourselves. Don’t forget yourself in this perilous time. You have survived and golden moments continue to be recognized. Perhaps in the achievement of a friend or a child. Perhaps in yourself.


SHORE LUNCH “A Tale of Two Campsites”

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.


Update from Ely Public Schools Superintendent Erik Erie

Our Ely Safe Learning Plan Advisory Council is meeting weekly to examine the latest COVID-19 data from St. Louis County Public Health. Local COVID-19 data and conditions are also considered.
This data is used to make decisions on staying in our current learning model or moving to another model. Currently, students in our Memorial building are in the hybrid model which splits the students into two groups where students are in school two days a week and distance learning the other three days.
The Washington Elementary remains with in-person learning where students are in school every day.
The decision to move the Memorial students to hybrid was based on data provided by St. Louis County Public Health and guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Education which recommends hybrid learning for secondary students when the greater St. Louis County bi-weekly case rate reaches 10.


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

The roads, most of them two lane, were bumpy and at times treacherous. It was wartime and army base buses and trucks carried soldiers to their future assignments.
Minnesota wasn’t much better. No carriers of military, but gravel was part of the two-lane road. It was all new to an Illinois child.
Activity in the mine pits around Virginia had no relationship to the rock pits left so far beyond near home.
The man spoke of Lake Vermilion as the place their pastor lived on an island in the summertime. They had chosen his Illinois church in which to be married.
During the gold rush in the area, his sister had stayed with local families while teaching school in the Tower area.
As they progressed toward there journey, they saw glimpses of lakes and resort signs.
Finally the car reached Ely and the road was filled with laden logging trucks on their way to mills. They were so big that it looked like they would be unable to stop suddenly if need be.


Thoughts of, and with, Carefree

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
Pull into the parking lot. Punch the code. Open the door and walk through the dining area. Take a left down the hallway to my grandma Dolly’s door.
For about four months last year, it became a regular and familiar drill.
And it was my first and lasting experience with Ely’s Carefee Living.
Often armed with a strawberry shake for 95-year-old Dolly and sometimes bringing a sundae for her sister-in-law and my great aunt Marcella, stops at the southern-most building in the community’s assisted living complex were part of my routine.
Hollee and the kids would make weekend visits, but during the week I had the responsibility - and now I remember it as a privilege - to spend some quality time as my grandma reached the end of her time with us.


Hook and Bullet Club - The Saxeruds

We’re looking for a little normal right now.
Last weekend we looked at the shack. Former Ely eye doc Mike Saxerud moved out west 16 years ago. He’s been back a few times and on this trip he brought his 17 year-old daughter Lily.
While she may not remember her birth place, she has heard many stories of Ely and wanted to meet those her father talks about.
I was fortunate enough to be on the list. Mike and Lily were only in town for a few days so we tried to make the best of our time together.
Our first task was to get Lily driving a wheeler. She did great, first we stopped by the lake and had the landing to ourselves. Mike and I caught up on life while Lily took to catching a frog on the shoreline.
Mike said Lily won a lottery in the fourth grade when she was one of the students chosen for a classroom in the forest. The school district has a forest where a teacher takes a group of fourth graders out in the woods for real world learning.


Trout Whisperer - Black night

I’m laying here listening to stars; they seem to be awfully quiet again tonight. I think it’s time to get up and finish this. I have a place I will air my mind, let the thoughts bound in daylight, maybe let them loose by sitting in the darkened porch.
In my wicker chair I can feel the slight breeze against my skin; I deep breathe that feeling right into me. I like when the night gives me cool fresh air.
Tonight, this darkness, all this quiet, if I believed in such things, would be like meeting the man in the long black coat. I strike a match, the candle is lit, and it pushes back against those thoughts.
Out there, up there, the tiny silver chips flicker, it’s one of my favorite unsung songs, for me it’s like watching a really good blues song, sung. Now I have only to listen to the music playing in my head.
I can feel it.
I can feel tonight.
It matters.


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

Whether your family is heading for the Boundary Waters or the family cabin, there’s a definite lure to the north of Ely.
Creating a visual memory of canoeing and camping in the BWCA is the new children’s picture book, “One Summer Up North” by John Owens,
The hardcover book is published by the University of Minnesota Press and is $17.99.
It portrays a small family as they travel by canoe through the Boundary Waters. Along the way they see everything from loons to a moose. The woodlands and wildlife are also drawn on the colorful pages.
Most families have fond memories of their cabin visit and the nearby waters for fishing, swimming and blueberry picking.
Not too long ago, Ely’s Rebecca Stouffer illustrated “At the Cabin in the Woods by the Lake Up North” for Raven Productions ($9.95 in softcover, $17.95 in hardcover.


As VCC reopens, welcome back

by Tom Coombe
Echo editor
All across the nation a familiar scene is playing out this weekend and next.
College students, some venturing off for the first time and others entering their second year of school or beyond, are packing up their belongings and loading tote crates into vehicles.
Often accompanied by parents and sometimes alone, they’re traveling to college towns, about to embark on nine months of education and life in another community.
Take a look around the next couple of days and there’s a good chance of noticing how this is playing out even in Ely.
It’s move-in weekend at Vermilion Community College, where classes begin this week and students are back on campus for the first time since March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The town will be abuzz with new and returning VCC students and more than a few parents, some experiencing Ely for the first time.


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