Friday, June 14, 2024
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The Long Way Home

Writing a column for this wonderful, locally owned weekly newspaper has turned out to be one of the highlights of my so-called golden years. I particularly enjoy the warm fuzzies I get when people I don’t even know, and some that I do know, tell me they enjoy reading the result of my toils. I get the warm fuzzies even when they tell me they don’t always agree with me or have trouble figuring out where certain columns are going.

Little do they know, I don’t always agree with me either and I find it troubling sometimes to see where a particular column is going.

Lucky for me, no one complains anymore about the headshot at the top of this column. The original pics, selfies of course, apparently made me look old and/or grumpy. I told those who complained that I am old and grumpy, so there.

Using my inhouse photographer a couple months ago I finally got a photo that captured my brightest smile. I hate having my picture taken.

Some people want to know how I can find something to write about every week. It’s not always easy. But I write notes during the week about stuff that’s going on and crazy stories that happen as my eyesight and hearing start to go.

Walking the dogs outside, without earbuds or listening to a Podcast (whatever that is), I listen to the sounds of nature, the ringing in my ears, and the voices of columns I want to write. Sadly, because I don’t write these bril­liant thoughts down ASAP, many good col­umns are vaporized in the woods.

Because human nature is fundamentally un­changed, I realize the stories I’ve lived to tell are almost timeless.

There are a couple things that can go wrong with the stories we tell.

First, we tend to embellish. I know that the stories I’ve repeated over the years, and over a beer or two, bear scant resemblance to real events. Memories aren’t the most reliable. And I always want to make myself look a little bet­ter and the story a little funnier. Like a snow­ball rolling down a hill, those self images and humorous moments get a little bigger and a lit­tle funnier each time.

The second thing is we tend to repeat our stories. I’ve told so many of them now that it’s hard to remember if the person or people I’m talking to have heard it before. And if they have, they’re sure to catch the latest embellish­ment I’ve come up with.

But, that’s what old people do. When we’re younger we barely tolerate the old man telling the same story over and over. Embellishing a little each time. And then, in the blink of an eye, we are the old man.

The same thing is true of columns. I look at my running list of possible topics for columns and end up wondering which ones were al­ready written before. I trust my publisher will let me know when that happens, with enough time to spew out another one before the dead­line.

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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