Friday's Weekend Column
Northland Conspiracy

by James Glaser
April 4, 2003

Last week I was telling you about the "Big Storm" the weatherman was scaring us with. We got about three inches of snow and it was all gone by Sunday, Now they are saying the same thing. Ten to twelve inches between International Falls and Grand Rapids which puts us right in the middle. You know how people always come up with those conspiracy theories, well that is what I think these weather forecasts are, a conspiracy.

For years the snowmobile industry in Minnesota has been suffering from lack of snow and with that, the winter tourist industry. So I think the Chamber of Commerce, Arctic Cat and Polaris have gotten together and convinced the weather service that it would almost be patriotic if they built up their snow forecasts. People in the cities fall for this every time, go out and buy new snow machines, and come up here and spend money.

For snowmobilers, snow is a plus, but by no means a necessity. If the bars are open that pretty much makes it a good weekend. Many feel if they don't have to take the machines off the trailer and put them back on, that gives them a couple extra hours of drinking. Also gas money spends in the bar too. Some times in Northome you will see a big SUV towing a trailer with four or even six snowmobiles and all they ask is, 'you guys see any snow?" Well snow is pretty easy to spot and if they haven't seen any in the 250 miles up here, chances are that there isn't any.

Just a quick update on the winter snow conspiracy theory, Minnesota Public Radio out of the cities, is saying 10 to 12 inches of snow. The local radio is saying 4 to 6 inches. I guess either MPR has been taken over by the snowmobile coalition or Arctic Cat made a huge pledge.

I am sure it is the same everywhere, up here you have a hard time getting away from the war. I just wrote about ten paragraphs on that and what it is doing to life up here. I gave it to Charmaine to read and she said that she thought I was going to write about the Northland on Fridays. You don't know how hard it is to say this, but she is right, again. So I deleted them and am starting over

I went down to the Marbles this week and put a few stitches into hand quilting the Centennial Quilt. The ladies from the township each did a square, at least those that wanted to. Each quilt block depicts something from local history. There is the old hotel, churches, the moon shine still, log cabins, and even an out house. They were going to hire someone to machine quilt the whole thing after the blocks were put together. Ms. Marble (age 90) said no way! She would do it by hand. Well the whole neighborhood is down there working on it and Ms. Marble is there to make sure you do it right.

Now George and I, the two laborers for the Centennial Quilt Show were allowed to come, but we could tell this was a ladies job, not that men can't do it, but all the gossip stopped when we were there. The quilt is quite impressive and the hand sewing really adds to the quality. Every day as I drive by I see lots of cars there, so they have all the help they need.

Our area up here is in the midst of "Breakup." That is an old logging term and it means that the frost is coming out of the ground and literally the road would break up. Those roads when frozen could handle the heavy loads of timber piled on the Dray that the horses would pull. Later on it was the trucks and when the road started to get soft the trucks would sink.

Today with black top roads they still have a problem, when the frost starts to go the blacktop starts to almost float on that soft earth underneath. With today's trucks loaded with about eighty thousand pounds, the truck pounding on that road pushes the earth out the sides and the road can break apart. So we have Breakup, except now the government decides when that is, The State and County post load limits on their roads, the loggers could still haul small loads, but it would not pay. So all over the area you see loggers in their shops working on equipment, in the coffee shops bullshitting, and many head off to Canada for some ice fishing.

Here is a kind of sad story. I always talk about our squirrels, how I feed them, and how they come to my window and beg. Well this week I shot one. He was a little Pine Squirrel, most people call them red. We have gray, black, and pine squirrels. We also have chipmunks. Well they do all fight some, but it got so this little pine squirrels would not let any others near the feed. I started to spread the sunflower seeds our on the railing, but he would run off any one wanting to eat even if the were twenty feet away.

This went on for days and he got so even if I threw a block of wood at him he would look right at me and "che che che" at me and go back to eating. Well I got out the BB Gun and pumped it up ten times, opened the door and he died instantly. To tell you the truth that was the first thing I had killed in over twenty years. I killed one deer after Vietnam and I was a wreck for weeks. Well this little killing got to me too. I know it was just a squirrel, but what gave me the right to end his life.

If I hadn't been to war I doubt if that would have even entered my mind. I saw too much killing and I think what gets me is that I can understand Marines killing the enemy. Sure, now I know how sick even that is, but back in the war it just seemed like that was what patriotism was all about. Killing isn't patriotic, especially when you are about 9,000 miles from home. Defending your loved ones is and defending your country is patriotic, but getting in a boat or plane and traveling thousands and thousands of miles to kill some one is not Patriotic.

Killing that squirrel brought that all back to me as soon as I squeezed that trigger. Now young Americans, just like I was, are over in Iraq squeezing that trigger and most are going to be effected just like me. As I said, I can still understand one army fighting another, stupid as that is, I understand it.

What I fail to understand is all of the innocent people that get killed in every war too. That is what tears you up. America has decided that it is our right to kill however many innocent people we have to in Iraq. America has decided that killing these people is Just. America has decided that those women, children, and infants that we killed did not have the right to keep on living. When I say America, I am actually saying George Bush and his Administration. Those young Americans that are pulling the triggers now can't see that yet because this war hasn't lasted that long, but in a few years those killings are going to start eating at them.

Even if they didn't see those civilians in their sights, the memory of their bodies will tag them with guilt. Years down the road maybe they will shoot a bird or even a squirrel and they will be transported back to Iraq for a while.

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