Wednesday, October 30, 2013

North Country Town Transitions

One of the highlights of our Excellent North Shore Adventure was our visit to the North House Folk School campus. We're not sure we'd want to take up the life of a pioneer full time, but we have a strong and growing attraction to simpler, more basic times and values. Perhaps it's related to the growing awareness that, after a certain income level, more money doesn't necessarily provide more happiness. During the trip and since, we've become increasingly interested in the question of whether the good folks that live in Tofte or Grand Marais or Hovland or Grand Portage live all that differently than those of us in or near "the cities." Much of the area from Duluth north is covered with "For Sale" signs and prices that seem excessive compared to the rest of the real estate market. A lot of the employment is service and tourist related, which wouldn't seem create the kind of income needed to support the real estate prices. It just all seems out of balance. In the time we were driving Highway 61 (revisited), we saw less than a handful of people outside Grand Marais or the gift shops and galleries scattered along the highway. No one seemed to be doing yard work or anything like that. At one of the scenic overlooks, we noticed this cairn.

photo of highway cairn
 highway cairn  © harrington
There was a similar one by a roadside turnout, not looking nearly as scenic, near Silver Creek Cliffs. Maybe MnDot is becoming a little locavorish? At an event we attended last night, an associate was telling us about the fact that, in the Winter, it's possible, and fun, to hike up the frozen creeks. There are clearly a number of Minnesotans who care about and enjoy this country. I wonder if they also care about reducing fossil fuel consumption before all the fir trees and pines move up to Canada? How many recharges or battery swaps, if any, will it take to get to ski country in Lutsen driving a Leaf or a Tesla and will they ever make those EVs AWDs? Where will the charging stations go and can they be mostly solar powered? We don't think it's too soon to start thinking this way. We're going to need to be as adaptable and tenacious as the plants growing on this "hillside" near Grand Portage to deal with climate change's effects in our North Country.

photo of Grand Portage "hillside"
Grand Portage "hillside"       © harrington

In honor of tomorrow's All Hallow's Eve and October's passing, let's remember it with this poem by Bobbi Katz.

October

By Bobbi Katz

October is
when night guzzles up
the orange sherbet sunset
and sends the day
to bed
before supper
            and
October is when jack-o’-lanterns
grin in the darkness
            and
            strange company crunches
across the rumple of dry leaves
to ring a doorbell.
October is
when you can be ghost,
            a witch,
                        a creature from outer space…
almost anything!
And the neighbors, fearing tricks,
            give you treats.

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