Friday's Weekend Column ... Fall Is Here

by James Glaser
October 11, 2002

Yesterday was not exactly summer, but today, Fall was in the air. I was rushing around like every year picking up everything that would be buried in the snow, getting the last of the garden produce, and finding a few of the tools I lost this summer. It was a good onion year and as I was taking out the last of the tomato plants, I found another twenty five that I missed that frost hadn't touched yet. I am pretty sick of canning and freezing produce, but in about a month I will be thinking of garden ripe tomatoes again.

The little animals like squirrels, chipmunks, and raccoons are eating whatever they can find. Just about every pine cone and all of those cedar seeds are in some hole or den. Birds of every kind are now winging their way through here as they know what is coming. Last night at the VFW meeting the old farmers were telling me this will be a heavy snow, warm winter. They say that every year and the last three have had little snow and warm. I'll take one more of those.

I still have one more nice day left, then the weather man says the cold will be here. After over thirty years up here I find that I like the winter the best. Many days other than the school bus, nobody drives by our house. All the tourists are gone and the snow birds will be heading south any time now. True, in the winter the logger trucks start traveling the roads, but loggers are really some of the nicest people you have ever met. We have card games at the township hall on Saturday night and other than the cars and pickups it could be 1940. Strong hot coffee and cocoa and lots of cookies and bars. Hey when it is cold you need that energy

People say the cold of Northern Minnesota keeps the riff raff out, others say it keeps them here. Oh, there will be the big influx of deer hunters and people come all the way from Chicago to fish Red Lake for monster crappies through the ice. Christmas this year will bring up a new grand child and we will all over eat again. Next week we will be having our pig butchered and in the freezer. We have been out of ham, bacon, and sausage for over a month. All the apples and plums are cooked down and strained into juice. We will be doing jelly this coming week which makes the whole house smell so nice.

This Saturday night the ladies from Gemmell will be having their annual soup and sandwich fund raiser for the children's playground. Seven or eight soups and every year there are a couple I have never heard of. Tomorrow night is homecoming and we play Littlefork a town about 49 miles north of here. If it doesn't rain it will be a lot of fun. I really do think that there are more things to do in a small town and I know that in a small town everyone is glad to see that you participate. It takes everyone to get anything done here and that makes it so everyone is welcome and after a while you do find that just about everyone, no matter what their job is nor what their house is like have something to contribute to the make up of the community.

Charmaine and I just went for a walk. It is about a half hour from sundown, the leaves are at their peak with colors of gold and red, and tonight it is still warm. We didn't see any deer, but there are tracks all over and they now come out just after dark. We picked some seed pods from the jimson weed for next year and I looked around at everything left to do and tomorrow will be a full day

Yeah, in last weeks weekend column I was telling you about the "free trade/ fair trade rally I was going to in Duluth. Hey, it was a lot of fun. Labor people, environmentalists, animal rights people, young, old, kids, music, food, and some very fine speakers. The Trade Unions put the whole thing together and they are organized. North East Minnesota is a strong union area and I have to tell you that union people know how to get their message across and have a good time too.

There were two lines to the food booths and while waiting in the barbecued pork sandwich line I was getting assailed by a group from PETA, that were in the vegetarian line. I think the smell of the pork and beef roasts on the charcoal grills was getting to them. Man that was one good sandwich even with the pictures they were showing us.

There was a woman from Mexico, who explained what it was to work in a NAFTA plant in Mexico. You get pregnant, your fired. You get sick, you get fired. The same job that in America called for protective clothing and fresh air breathing masks were done with no safety equipment at all. Three dollars an hour, twelve hours a day and no over time. You have to remember that the products they make over there are sold here and the price is the same or higher even though labor costs are about 10% of what they were when Americans made them. That is why multinational companies can pay the CEO on average, 531 times what the average American worker makes and about 5,000 times more than what the average Mexican worker makes. Sad huh?

I have to tell you that in-between each couple of speakers, a band or single singer would get up on stage and entertain us. Like I said, union people have learned how to get their message across. Another speaker told about China and how now American stores like Walmart have moved their purchasing departments right into China and workers face the same conditions as Mexico, except they only get 19 cents a hour. Yes that is right, a dollar and fifty two cents for a eight hour day. Oh yeah, I forgot, in neither country do you get bathroom breaks nor is there like a lunch break or any other break. Like that cheap stuff though huh? Maybe those people that are working and making stuff for us, learn not to like America. Maybe, could be true.

When you learn just how hard other people in other nations have it, America looks oh so good and I think Northern Minnesota is the best part of America, just like you probably think your region is best. If we want to keep both of our regions the best they can be we will have to try somehow to make these other people have a better life too. If we don't they will all come here and want to live like we do. You can see that happening already and America can only absorb so many. Either we help the rest of the world or we will become more and more like those that need our help.

BACK to the Essays.