It’s that time of year

I’m not referring to the time we give up on the Twins for the season and start talking about next year, or the time hope springs eternal for the Vikings season. I’m not even talking about taking a week off to spend at the cabin. I’m talking about a Minnesota tradition that has taken on the trappings of ritual. The growing, preparing and eating of sweet corn.

Minnesota sweet corn
image credit: Cliff Hutson via Flickr, Creative Commons

 

And like the fate of the Twins and the Vikes, this culinary tradition is rife with controversy. Where to get it, how to cook it, how to eat it and where the best comes from are subjects of heated debate throughout the state and beyond. There are even those that claim the best sweet corn comes from, gasp, Iowa. Any time people sit down to eat sweet corn, it’s obligatory for each person to testify as to when and where they had the best corn ever. Continue reading

It’s like riding a bike.

photo curtesy Jan Willemsencreative commons
photo curtesy Jan Willemsen creative commons

A couple of weeks ago I had a disturbing realization. I can no longer ride a bike. I know, it’s something you’re never supposed to forget, and I’m sure I remember how to spin the twin gyroscopes and keep the contraption upright and moving forward, it’s just that I can’t. My right knee doesn’t bend far enough to push the pedals all the way around, I get stalled at the top of the stroke on that side. Well, I could if I raised the seat high enough, but that would put me in such and awkward position that if I tried to put a foot down when I stopped I’d be in danger of going over.

 

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Greazy Muzic

600full-aretha-franklinI’m a child of the sixties. Or more accurately, that’s the decade of my adolescence. Curse or blessing, my generation grew up in interesting times. We went from Beaver Cleaver to Easy Rider and Sputnik to the Moon in a little more than a decade. The Times They Are a Changin’  was a fitting anthem for the era. And when Buffalo Springfield sang, “There’s somethin’ happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear,” they were expressing what was on the minds of most Americans.

Popular music was riding the crest of that wave of change. We were already all shook up coming out of the fifties and were headed to the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. One of the best parts of this long strange trip was the mainstreaming of Black music. The radio stations in my little Western Minnesota town exposed my to the joy of soul music, and that shaped my musical taste for life.

I recently watched the documentary Muscle Shoals, the story of the Muscle Shoals Sound and the tiny Northwestern Alabama town on the Tennessee River where some of the best of that Black music was recorded. Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Aretha, Joe Tex, Clarence Carter and the list goes on all recorded there. And I drove around Moorhead in our Chevy wagon with the windows down and fell in love with Soul. Black Music.

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Firenado Part 2

fire tornadoNow for the story of the actual firnado encounter. As I mentioned, we’d spent the summer digging line around clearcuts with the intent of doing controlled burns in August.  The time had come, and we were preparing for our first burn of the season.

In a controlled burn your crew is taken to the top of the clearcut and spread out along a logging road with propane torches, kind of like flame throwers, big tanks strapped to your backs. Researching control burn images, I see that these days they use something called drip torches, little cans of flammable material (kerosene?) with long necked spouts. They really don’t know how to have fun anymore. Anyway the crew, about 20 strong, spreads out across the top of the cut and starts moving down the slope, lighting the slash piles as they go. Since file burns uphill, everyone tries to move together and stay on the downhill side of the burn. If you’ve every had a pyromaniacal urge, this is the job for you. Continue reading