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The Long Way Home

It’s almost March Madness. Some con­sider March madness to mean college bas­ketball playoffs. I think there is something else, something more, to March madness.

Here in Cook County, March is the lon­gest month of winter. Whether it comes in like a lion or comes in like a lamb, there seem to be many more overcast days than sunny ones. There tends to be too many snowstorms. And it seems like people are just a bit more angry than at any other time of the year.

In my newspaper publishing days we printed a law enforcement report each week. It was a log of calls and reports from the responding deputies. Those reports were written by the officers, and back then they weren’t standardized like now. Some of them were laughed out loud funny.

The reports had so much character that a morning radio show in the Twin Cities used to read them on the air, just for laughs.

While there is no concrete evidence, it seemed to those of us in the news room that the reports from the cop shop could be a tad darker and the calls more numerous in March. We also saw a bit of madness in the letters to the editor in March and pub­lic meetings of various kinds seemed more contentious. March madness.

The March-like weather we had here last week, a half inch of rain that created a half foot of slush followed by ice everywhere, has left me with a feeling of madness. It might be killing me.

In the winter we plow our 600 foot drive­ way, a broad area for parking, and a bit of the now abandoned road, what we call the old road, that comes up from County 14.

These plowed surfaces allow us to walk the four dogs that call our house “home” for their four times a day constitutional. They, and we two old ones, are pretty ingrained in the habit. The dogs however don’t realize how we humans are endangered now that ice covers all the plowed surfaces.

YakTrax are nice on the snow packed sur­faces we walk on, but they are only slight­ly better than useless on the ice. And ice is everywhere. Large areas of the ice are as smooth as a skating rink, the rest is about as smooth as a Curling rink. Not good for someone with a deathly fear of a nosedive on the frozen ground.

I’m one who has that deathly fear.

My fear of falling on the ice is that I’d be injured and unable to do the chores of dog walks and firewood moving for the rest of the winter. And I don’t know who would do them for me.

So, I only go out with YakTrax on my boots and take only baby steps, not mov­ing one foot until I know the other is se­curely planted. All the time I’m imagining the worst that could happen if I fell and the stress is incredible. By the time the dogs have done their duty, my adrenalin is raised to peak levels and it takes some time to calm me down. Ice walking March madness.

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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