Monday, June 24, 2024
HomeCommunityThe Long Way Home

The Long Way Home

For nearly 60 years, the television soap op­era Days of Our Lives has been a staple of our screens. Its iconic opening sequence, featur­ing an hourglass and the phrase ‘Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives,’ has become synonymous with the show. Originally airing on NBC in 1965, the show concluded its run in 2022. The story didn’t end there. New episodes are now exclusively avail­able on NBC’s Peacock streaming service.

The show is set in a fictional city called Sa­lem, IL. There is an honest Salem, IL, and I’ve been there. It was the headquarters of one of the last trucking companies I worked for be­fore my latest attempt at retiring. I don’t recall any bragging in Salem that it was the name­sake for a long-running soap opera.

But enough about that.

The hourglass and accompanying phrases remind us that the characters and our lives are steadily slipping away.

To supplement our fixed income, I do some freelance writing. I’m also a certified and paid aquatic invasive species inspector, but the in­come and the inspections are seasonal, so I stay on the keyboard as much as possible.

I spent too much time pondering the past twenty years earlier this month.

Freelance writing assignments come from editors willing to pay (my motivation) to get the story they want. So last month, when a magazine editor invited me to prepare an arti­cle about the changes on the North Shore since 2014, I said yes, with gratitude and commitment. Thus, the time spent pondering.

Some researchers use a 20-year window as a starting point to define a generation. This is be­cause it reflects the gap between when parents have children and when those children become adults. I’d never thought of it that way until I re­alized that four of the five grandchildren that bless us are either sniffing or past the two-decade mark. The other, Dorothy, just finished kindergarten.

Before the grandchildren were born, our children were a generation. As we turn 70 this summer, the bohunk and I have slogged through three and a half generations.

See what pondering the last two decades can lead to? It gets you pacing the cage.

“Pacing the Cage” is a moving song written by Bruce Cockburn. The lyrics may seem a bit depressing, but they speak to me. “Sometimes it feels like you’ve lived too long. The days drip slowly on the page. Sooner or later, you wind up pacing the cage.”

Returning to the North Shore more than half a decade ago, the Bohunk and I see a new gener­ation making its way into a popular retirement community and impacting the area. Kids who came of age at the change in the millennium have raised a new generation, and if I’m being honest, I delight in watching them move into the world while I’m pacing the cage.

I remember the “educational” movie Reefer Madness and the powers that were shown to scare us in high school. It was not as scary as the prospect of going to Vietnam, but it made me think about whether I should inhale or not.

I recently read that daily pot consumption exceeds daily alcohol consumption in our great republic. So much for reefer madness.

Sometimes, the sadness of seeing some of the changes that new generations, residents, and visitors bring can get overpowering here in the cage.

But with hope and optimism, tempered with knowledge and experience, I can beat back the sadness as I watch the brilliant kids I know, our grandkids and the children of friends and neighbors, begin tackling the challenges we’ve left unmet.

I even look forward to being at the boat land­ings, away from the cage, to inspect for inva­sive species and interact with a diverse group of people–locals and visitors. See you out there.

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.
- Advertisment -

Most Popular