Books & art

Book Review: Safe from the Sea, by Peter Geye
May 22, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Book Review: Safe from the Sea, by Peter Geye

The North East Minnesota Books Award winners were announced last week, and the winner for fiction is....the North Shore and Lake Superior!! Actually, it was the debut novel of Peter Geye, Safe from the Sea. Ostensibly the story of reconciliation between father and son, the real star of the book is ominous Lake Superior and the colorful communities and people that cling to the lake's edges. This is a short novel sprinkled with cultural references familiar to anyone who's spent some time in Duluth and on the North Shore. The names have been changed, but you can spend time at the Anchor … read more


German Expressionism hits the North Woods
February 26, 2011 by Andrew Slade

German Expressionism hits the North Woods

Seen on a well-used National Forest outhouse at a ski trailhead in Ely:  This well-weathered man reminded me of the woodblock prints of the German Expressionist, like this one from Max Kaus. When we arrived in Ely for our winter break, the woods were full of snow, but it was a crusty, angular, and shall we say depressing snow. Like the angular cuts in those woodblocks. Actually, there was a lot of German expressionism during our week up in the Ely woods.Like my older son, in his first year of German, teaching his younger brother how to insult someone in that … read more


On the ski trail with Sigurd Olson
February 16, 2011 by Andrew Slade

On the ski trail with Sigurd Olson

Everywhere I go in northeastern Minnesota, the great naturalist, writer and activist Sigurd Olson was there before me. I skied along the top of an esker the other day with my son, lovingly pointing out to him how the trail ran down the top of the winding ridge. Eskers are basically fossils of the rivers that ran underneath the great continental glaciersIn search of a skiing quote later that day, I found this from Sigurd Olson (in Spirit Of The North: The Quotable Sigurd F. Olson)An owl is hooting in the darkening timber, and over the trees hands a thin … read more


Ski joke: Why ski trails are measured in kilometers
January 21, 2011 by Andrew Slade

Ski joke: Why ski trails are measured in kilometers

The world needs more ski jokes; here's my attempt to provide something new:The top ten reasons ski trails are measured in meters and kilometers, not feet and miles 1. When the woods are lovely, dark and deep, skiers would rather not have miles to go before they sleep2. Skiers’ feet are stinky3. C’mon, would you rather ski 30 miles or 30K?4. Three words: One World Government 5. “5 K” sounds way cooler than “3.2 M”6. That’s how they measure distance in Finland and Norway...and all the rest of the industrialized world7. Chicks dig “clicks”8. Gives the Italian, Swedish and Norwegian … read more


It’s cooler by the lake: The poem
June 22, 2010 by Andrew Slade

It’s cooler by the lake: The poem

Today's 57 degrees in Grand Marais and 87 degrees in Minneapolis make your mind turn to poetry. This old ditty deserves to get back into circulation:It's Cooler by the LakeSteve StarkThe weatherman on TV NewsSaid "It's a nifty dayFor golfers with their polished clubsTo get outside and play.Or if you have a mind to workYou might go outside and rake.Two Harborites can stay inside --It's cooler by the lake."The Minneapolis temps are upIt's lush and warm and green.In Brimson, well, the skies are clearTen miles can be seen.All over MinnesotaThe citizens will bake,For us the caveat is out --"It's cooler … read more


Keeping it real
December 7, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Keeping it real

In an article for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review last week, Paul g. Wiegman reviewed some regional trail and field guides for western Pennsylvania. Despite UpNorthica's recent fun and inspiring foray into the same area, I don't plan any trips there in the near future.One section of the review jumped off the page for me. Wiegman points out exactly what we strive for in our North Shore guidebooks.That last point of having lots of real field experience is important to consider when you are looking at any field or hiking guide. There are guides written by authors who gather … read more


Visualizing snow: A winter poem from Gary Snyder
December 4, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Visualizing snow: A winter poem from Gary Snyder

"Pine Tree Tops"in the blue nightfrost haze, the sky glowswith the moonpine tree topsbend snow-blue, fadeinto sky, frost, starlight.the creak of bootsrabbit tracks, deer tracks,what do we know.Gary Snyder, from Turtle Island, 1974, New Directions … read more


Fridtjof Nansen on the beauty of skiing
December 1, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Fridtjof Nansen on the beauty of skiing

Take it from Fridtjof Nansen, one of the great polar explorers of all time and a huge advocate for cross-country skiing:"There is no form of sport which so evenly develops the muscles, which renders the body so strong and elastic, which teaches so well the qualities of dexterity and resources, which in an equal degree calls for decision and resolution, and which gives the same vigor to mind and body alike."Where can one find a healthier and purer delight than when on a brilliant winter day one binds one's skis to one's feet and takes one's way out into the … read more


Book review: The Snow Tourist
November 30, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Book review: The Snow Tourist

It's the end of November, and here in Duluth we're stuck in this netherworld of cold and brown, waiting for the first real snow of the season so the world can be cold and white as it should be. The dreaming has begun, of snowy places west and north. The North Shore may be the snowiest part of Minnesota overall, but it's snow-free so far this winter.That puts us in the same place as Charlie English, author of The Snow Tourist: A search for the world's purest, deepest snowfall. English lives in London, where he yearns for snow pretty much … read more


Tettegouche: The funny bits
November 3, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Tettegouche: The funny bits

I went for a lovely and very challenging hike yesterday at Tettegouche State Park. I took lots of pictures and will have some interesting, reflective posts here on the blog.However, I just had to put up pictures of these two signs. The first one, for the Cedar Lake Overlook, is missing just the right letters to have it turn into a Polynesian blessing: "E-dar A-ke O Er Ook." There is a scene in Finding Nemo, where the other fish in the fish tank at the dentist's office initiate Nemo into their tropical brotherhood. Their chant is just like this. Edar … read more