Sunday, April 6, 2014

Jobs: yes; Environment: Yes; DFL: ?

This morning, a planter of tulips has replaced the holly bush that used to be on the book case. A pot of yellow narcissus adorns the dining table. It's two weeks until Easter and waterfowl plus open water have arrived at Carlos Avery. The mallards were far enough away they only show in a larger picture. The trumpeter swans and Canada geese are large enough to stand out in a blog-sized photo, as is this close up of a red wing blackbird.

red winged blackbird watching ice melt
red winged blackbird watching ice melt         © harrington

trumpeter swans and open water (Sunrise River)
trumpeter swans and open water (Sunrise River)    © harrington

Canada goose (on ice) and trumpeter swan (in water)
Canada goose (on ice) and trumpeter swan (in water)      © harrington

Perhaps as significant as the open water is the fact that, for the second time within the past week, our driveway is functionally ice free. A different significant discovery was reported in today's Star Tribune. "Iron Range rebellion halted wild rice initiative." Having tracked this issue for some time, I can't say I'm surprised, just deeply disappointed. As far as I can see, Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor party has two major constituencies these days: labor and environmentalists. It's been too long since we've seen any sign of the kind of political leadership that could create necessary alliances (like the Minnesota Blue-Green Alliance) in northern Minnesota. It seems to me that lacking leadership with foresight and direction, the Iron Range communities will always face the kind of future Loren Niemi describes in his poem Hibbing, a future with neither jobs nor a desirable environment.

Loren Niemi


Hibbing

In the town where I was born the scarred
earth could always be seen, the bloody
slag piles, the boom and bust on the fortunes of steel
making mountains where molehills once stood.

My father's and a thousand other fathers'
childhoods carried away in ore cars
to feed American progress while
the mines devoured the ground where houses stood.

If I were there, I'd join the crawl
up First and down Howard
behind the wheel of a souped-up hot rod
capable of speed but rumbling in second gear.

Nowhere to go, nothing to do,
my cousins boil the night away with unnamed desire
to graduate and leave looking for anything
that is not this town, this work, this life, this fear.

If I were there, I might not be so lucky—
end up supporting a family for union wages
measuring time by the mine whistle

in a land dying but never quite dead.
Never quite rich, still restless and working for retirement and the cabin on the lake or
a kid's college education like the one I'm getting
because my old man left that town long ago.

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