Sunday, March 5, 2017

Looking for Spring in the North Country

Yesterday we experienced another sign of Spring in the North Country, flocks of tourists descended on Canal Park in Duluth. Like gulls they were hopping and squawking about, raising a ruckus about bright shiny objects and bits of delicious food. I suppose that, technically, since we aren't residents of that fine city, we must count ourselves among the "touristas," but, having worked on several projects in Duluth during the past decade or so, I'm granting myself a non-resident exemption from the tourist label on the basis that I know that Canal Park used to be a Duluth neighborhood known as Finn Town.

Spring colors awakening
Spring colors awakening
Photo by J. Harrington

Spring colors are returning to the road sides and are particularly noticeable at the tops of the dogwood and alder bushes, turning from Winter's browns to brighter shades of red. The reds are highlighted by grasses, rushes, and cattails, which all remain sere and tan. Their time will come. Each of the rivers we crossed, Snake, Kettle, Moose Horn, St. Louis, and creeks of the Big and Little Otter persuasion, had at least some patches of open water. The amount of snow cover slowly increased as we headed North, but didn't get very deep. Another sign of a mild Winter for Minnesota.

Duluth Harbor / St. Louis River
Duluth Harbor / St. Louis River
Photo by J. Harrington

The Big Lake was a brooding gray adding an icy bite to the wind off the water. The combination served as a reminder that Spring in Duluth was at least ten days to two weeks behind our home territory and hadn't yet fully arrived in either location. Leaf-out is still several states South of Minnesota. No matter. As I've heard said in London, England, "All things come to Thames that wait." I think the equivalent in Duluth is "Chill out."



North Star




In Hanko, Finland
a young woman boards
the vessel in the Baltic
for a ship across the Atlantic.
The North Star shines in the sky.
She’s carrying in her valise
a change of clothes
a packet of seeds
and the sauna dipper.
Distance pours between constellations
between English words on her tongue
through storms and sun.
In New York City, she buys
a one way ticket
boards the train going
across the continent
arrives on an inland sea.
The winter ground underfoot
is familiar with frost
as she transfers to a northbound
along the Vermilion Trail
in Minnesota.
Ahead of her waits a man
a house to be built
and a fire that burns it down.
Ahead, eleven children
to bear, a few she must bury,
the cows in the barn
needing to be milked.
Unbroken ground only hers to till.
Above her, the North Star
inside the aurora borealis, northern
banners waving welcome —

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