An Old Journal

June 11, 1989Conversations with my mother, as of late, tend to wander to years past.  Often, those talks about years of past involve Clarice.  Clarice is my grandmother – my mother’s mother – will be turning ninety this year, and as it sometimes happens as one ages, memory is not what it used to be.

Clarice is a very small woman and has gotten smaller as she has progressed through her 80s.  Even though she is a small woman, she holds a very large place in the memories of my childhood.

While visiting my parents several weeks ago, I asked my mother if she knew of the location of some small journals Clarice had written when I six or seven.

These were not personal journals instead, these were journals that, within a small square or two of paper, chronicled the hunting and fishing outings that I had gone on with both Clarice and my grandfather.  My mother vaguely remembered these journals, but, she would ask Clarice if she knew of where one of them might located.

Last weekend, I was in Hibbing.  Again, the conversation with my mother drifted to remember when; the topic of journals came up.  My mother had asked Clarice about the journals, and she remembered them, but not very well.

June 11, 1989With a bit of searching, my mother and I found one of the notebooks.  The first entry in this particular notebook was from June 11, 1989.  I would have been eight years old.  Reading through this first entry, I remember parts of it.  The tent caterpillars (colloquially, we referred to them as army worms), and the cat fish.  The cat fish was one of the many creatures that happened to be eventually housed [ever briefly] in a small, grey enamel wash tub; I think the tub is still at my parent’s house under the basement laundry sink.  The catfish and the turtles that happened to find their way through the grey tub were all released into a local lake on the outskirts of Hibbing.

But, the things that amaze me about the journal entries are more transient; locations and the time it takes to reach these locations in comparison to what I know now as a thirty-something year old person.  The locations my grandmother penned in the journals fill in a bit of the location-less-ness of those memories I forged as an eight year old.

The notes on where we went on this particular afternoon excursion; places like Zim, the St. Louis River, and Lavell Road; I know now, and have known since I began driving.  It takes roughly 25 minutes to drive to Zim.  But, to an eight year old, “Zim,” “St. Louis River,” “Lavell,” these were just words.  They lacked the context of place and distance.

Lavell Road, Zim, MNMy thinking was that I was traveling to someplace that took some time to get there.  This may be where my fascination for and joy of getting there came from; just riding with my grandparents without much of a hurry.  It was an adventure, albeit, an afternoon adventure that took us on an at most sixty mile round trip adventure.  But, in my head, these adventures were to far off lands where we would see creatures that did not reside in my immediate backyard; like deer, ruffed grouse (partridge), woodchucks, catfish and sometimes we saw snapping turtles, ducks and geese.

At the end of the day, I would be tired.  I do not even recall how I ended up back home; whether I was dropped off by my grandfather or if my mother drove the few blocks to pick me up.  I also do not recall the total number of these outings.  This particular journal that I found contains about six outings over threes year (June 1989 thru September 1992); but I like to think these were a regular occurrence happening throughout my childhood.



Close to 1100 Miles


Upper Mississippi ValleyThis winter has been seemingly long.  We are into the second week of April, and this morning, as we headed out the door for work, there was a heavy, wet snow covering much of everything.  The slow drive into work with its heavy snow fall was punctuated here and there with flashes of lightening and cracks of thunder.

Don’t get me wrong, unless something goes radically wrong, this spring, my 32nd spring, will eventually turn into warmer weather with plants starting poke through the brown and grey landscape.

A shipment of fruit trees – apple, cherry, cold-tolerant peach, and plum trees – strawberry stolons, and asparagus and hops rhizomes – and a bundle of raspberry canes arrived three days ago.  The rhizomes/stolons are in the kitchen refrigerator taking up a bunch of room.  The trees and canes are still in their box, outside, under an eave of the house.  Our order of chickens will likely arrive next week – around the time state and federal taxes are due.  This year’s order of honeybees will be in late – most likely after May 1st.

Even with the impending arrival of spring and the associated outside activities of spring, I have not been really thinking of spring, instead I have been driving; mostly north and then south after a couple days.  Visiting my parents in Hibbing, visiting people in Duluth, looking out at Lake Superior.

Several weeks ago, I needed to be in Duluth, MN.  For those of you who have forgotten, Duluth was once my stomping ground.  I have many memories – fond and not so fond associated with the town.  Having sold our place in the area last summer, I had not been up to the old place very much in the last while.  I missed the town, the region, the lake and the general location.

My meet-up in Duluth was not until 9:30 AM, but having made up my mind the previous night, I was determined to make it to Duluth by sun-up.

3:30 AM on a Friday came too quickly.  My alarm pumped out SKRILLEX’s Bangarang; I was up and out of bed.   A quick breakfast and I headed up highway 61; I had packed my travel bag, cameras and miscellaneous things the night before.   In addition to the brief day-long trip in Duluth, I was having Dinner in Two Harbors.

Driving through Carlton, I could see to the east that the sky was getting ever-so-lighter; it might be the sun, or it might be the city illuminating the underside of a light cloud cover.  I pushed on toward Duluth.

I rolled into Canal Park, there was a sliver of light on the horizon.  I sipped my coffee for a bit.

The sunrise was gorgeous.  The entrance to the harbor had a bit of ice; the air was crisp, a very slight wind blew in off the lake.  Even though it was chilly, it made me smile.  I am still finding my place in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area; I will find it, it will simply take time.

The meet up went without a hitch; lunch was with my parents at Lake Avenue Cafe in the DeWitt Seitz Marketplace building.  We mused over how the restaurant had change a bit since we had first eaten there some twenty-one years ago.

My parents headed back to Hibbing; I headed up the shore to Gooseberry Falls State Park.  The falls were mostly frozen and the area was swamped with college students from Iowa.

Gooseberry Falls State Park - Bay

By this point, I had driven a mere 200 miles.  Back to Two Harbors are dinner with a friend of mine from high-school/early-college-years. The rest of the travel went something like Two Harbors to Duluth, Duluth to Hibbing, [end Friday] Hibbing to Crane Lake (via Angora, MN), then to (just outside) International Falls, back to Hibbing (via the Side Lake, MN) [end Saturday], down highway 65 to Mora, Mora to Hinckley, Hinckley to St. Paul.

Melissa had some things to attend to with friends in Racine, MN.  It was then off to Racine…and back to St. Paul [end Sunday].

The entire trip involved approximately four petrol refills, one roadside assistance for the Volkswagen (a solid road-side shoulder was not too solid), a few snacks, and many, many podcasts of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell and Real Time with Bill Maher.

…and just this past weekend, I was up to the Iron Range, yet, again.