Sunday, April 14, 2024
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The Long Way Home

I don’t think this is the first time I’ve done this here, so here’s another mea culpa.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a time-honored practice of leaving on a high note that gave the impression that the bohunk, our crew of animals, and this old hoot were moving to the small town of Carlton. That may happen someday, but not now.

In that column, I was doing something I of­ten do: thinking out loud on my keyboard. My recent supervisor at SWCD, the best manager I’ve ever worked for, suggested I shouldn’t think out loud in a newspaper column.

The confusion about us moving is all my fault. Not the thinking-out-loud part. But giving the impression that a move was imminent. MEA CULPA.

So, here’s the deal. Since we first met on that fateful blind date when we were two misfit 16-year-olds, the Bohunk and I had regular and deep conversations about our future to­gether. From how many kids we would raise (I favored nine to field a baseball team) to where we’d live and how we’d make a living. We tended to see our life together as a pro­gression. When we achieved one dream, we’d move on to the next.

Over half a century, we often had irregu­lar but still deep conversations about where we were in life, where we wanted to be, and what the future holds. We’ve always thought this place on the Ridge was the last place be­fore the final spot. Recognizing that physical decline may require an intermediate place before the final place, we’ve had some really deep conversations about what that means.

One of us thinks an excellent intermediate place would be an apartment in a building with a cafeteria and other amenities where I could play cribbage daily while arguing pol­itics with sad, older men wearing red hats proclaiming MAGA while the ladies play Ca­nasta.

The other of us thinks that a good inter­mediate place would be a small house in the middle of a few acres of wooded flat land. The dogs would love it. It would be well-insu­lated with good windows and wouldn’t need six or seven cords of firewood to keep the chills away.

As you can see, our visions are divergent just now. We will work to bring things together as time passes, as we always have. And while we do, we’ll be here on the ridge in Cook County, looking at Lake Superior all four seasons.


The events at the North Shore Hospital in the past several months have clarified the weaknesses of an individual administrator and the complacency of the elected board of directors. As far as sexy elected offices go, the hospital board rests close to the bottom of the list. Elections aren’t what we’d call com­petitive.

The fact is that NSH is a public facility man­aged by a private, non-profit business based in Duluth.

I’ll leave it at this. Health care is a right that should be open to all human people in a com­munity, even a nation. Many of the staffing problems at NSH result from a CEO focused on managing costs at the expense of quality care and common sense.

Let’s have actual public health care and leave the profit motive to other sectors.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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