Friday, November 1, 2013

North Shore Update

Several days ago we were speculating on the future of Minnesota forests, logging and related industries. The Star-Tribune today covers a Finnish-owned pulp plant in Cloquet that has successfully completed a transition from producing paper pulp to producing pulp for clothing (chemical cellulose). The product is sold and shipped to textile producers in Asia. Minnesota seems to be serving as an intermediate, raw materials source in the global market in this sector. We think it would be nice to see textile plants (with more value added) located here, so we can ship textile material to Asia, thus creating more manufacturing jobs in Minnesota? Mightn't that also reduce the environmental footprint of the ultimate product, assuming that the US has more stringent and comprehensive environmental regulations than China, Indonesia, et. al.? Value-added manufacturing jobs would be a beneficial alternative to other extractive job possibilities proposed for the area. There probably wouldn't be a need for 500 years of stewardship after a chemical cellulose processing plant closed.

Sawtooth Mountains        © harrington

On a no doubt less contentious topic, after admitting uncertainty yesterday about whether we had been observing crows or ravens during our trip, we spent part of yesterday evening curled up with our copy of A Sierra Club's Naturalist's Guide to the North Woods... Reading through that left a definite  impression that the black birds were most likely crows and not ravens. We're relying on probability here, not certainty. From what we read, ravens are characteristic of even further north than Minnesota's North Shore, although we're tempering our conclusion because we read, several years ago, Peter Leschak's Seeing the Raven. We assume there must be at least some around. After spending time in the North Shore's beautiful and rugged country, we understand why folks like Leschak and Sigurd Olson have expressed so much devotion to living there and keeping it's integrity intact. We agree.

Archibald MacLeish may have spent some time on the North Shore (or not) before he wrote this poem. It seems to fit rather well. What do you think?

Immortal Autumn

By Archibald MacLeish 
I speak this poem now with grave and level voice   
In praise of autumn, of the far-horn-winding fall.

I praise the flower-barren fields, the clouds, the tall   
Unanswering branches where the wind makes sullen noise.

I praise the fall: it is the human season.
No more the foreign sun does meddle at our earth,   
Enforce the green and bring the fallow land to birth,   
Nor winter yet weigh all with silence the pine bough,

But now in autumn with the black and outcast crows   
Share we the spacious world: the whispering year is gone:   
There is more room to live now: the once secret dawn   
Comes late by daylight and the dark unguarded goes.

Between the mutinous brave burning of the leaves   
And winter’s covering of our hearts with his deep snow   
We are alone: there are no evening birds: we know   
The naked moon: the tame stars circle at our eaves.

It is the human season. On this sterile air
Do words outcarry breath: the sound goes on and on.   
I hear a dead man’s cry from autumn long since gone.

I cry to you beyond upon this bitter air.

Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.