40 Degrees Can Be Delectable

It's the small things. Windows can be open now to receive fresh air without the summer insects that are still dormant. Occasionally, there is the flight of eagles adrift on the updraft, unseen winds at play just above the leafless birch and aspen. Forty degrees means a person can go for walks without the purchase of gloves. Suddenly they become optional. This temperature opens up pathways beside our roads, now dry. Drifts are in retreat. The rock faces of solemn cliffs invite us to look once again. Their intricacy is a far cry from their blanks stares as we rushed by only weeks before, faces against the wind. These are the days of open ground, and sunlight is penetrating the woods. We watch

Days Are Wearing Thin

Rocks that will not move. Insurmountable, we say. Stony outcroppings like fortresses against the wind. To break them down, impossible. To challenge them, the devil’s deceit. To break with the past, a tedious effort. To reshape our future, imaginations true test. Great Heartbeat; waves, wash over us. By the drop, challenge old assumptions. Reshape the land with the small and relegated. Define us by the blended foam, breaker upon breaker, water warrior upon water warrior. The victory of the insignificant, the cessation of doubt, wrought upon a stubborn, defiant coast. Time matters. And time laced with subtle actions, tumultuous challenges, the roar of combers forever reaching, the lapping wate

7 Ways Portages Teach Us

In life, we know there will be difficulties. But we often don't know what lies ahead. We can't anticipate all the problems. In canoeing, these hardships are well-announced with names like Mantrap and Cannibal and Dead Man's Portage. Other portages steal upon us unaware. Their names do not give them away. Lines drawn on a map don't warn us of the miseries to follow. One of the portages I remember began in sun-dried mud that spilled out onto the lake. Unloading my canoe and hefting it to my shoulders, there was an archway of small trees, beautiful in appearance. Here was a gentle path, dusted with light and pollen coming from above. It was inviting and beckoned me to the next lake. But a few s

Crazy Fear

It is that gentle persuasion of dread. The gnawing in the pit of one’s gut that things will go awry. It can scream at us, fighting for its own survival. It is the lead wolf snarling and licking its chops. It travels far and near. It cannot rest. It watches and waits. It is tone-deaf to reason. It flies in the face of all logic to find a home in our sinew and senses. It traces its bony fingers through the hair of our memories and our future. It is our mate on ventures into the unknown. It lies to us, caresses us, tells us we are weak. It convinces us that someone else must complete the journey. Fear resides on the hardscrabble shores of our life. It licks like fire at the soft wooden resin of

Surprised As If By Magic

Sigurd F. Olson, in his book Runes of the North, affectionately calls them the Ross Lights. They appear as if by magic. They arrive in contrast to every other color and hue; they are twilight's last stolen gift to us all. Ross Lights are the exceptional moments when the slanting rays of the setting sun hold in blaze gold on an unsuspecting branch. They are found, Sigurd Olson writes, on a streak of open water, "the channel a shifting kaleidoscope of rose and vermillion, orange and mother-of-pearl against the blue." On another occasion, skiing in the gathering dusk, the sun made "pine cones masses of gold," and grosbeaks (he wrote) "turned to Chinese red." Beautiful whenever they appear to gr

This Time of Year

In this northern place, days are often grey. Clouds hang on the horizon, and Lake Superior is often restless and stormy. It is a time of transition, a time when the world is undecided. Soon, the sun will rise much earlier and set later than expected. But now, it is on the hinge-point. We are waiting; some are aching for change to occur. In this grand and glorious land, so close to what is rock-hewn and elemental, there is this pause. Snow is coming off the shoulders of the roads nearby. Roofs are being liberated. But always, there is also the presentiment of more cold and snow. This time of year, we wait. We burn whatever firewood we have to cut the cold. We see our driveways graciously melt

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Grand Marais, MN 55604, USA

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