It was the kind of day that stirs the river that runs inside of me. Deeply emotional and heavy with nostalgia. The first day of autumn came in with a second heavy frost igniting resplendent coloration to the northern forests.
Twice each year–in the late spring and again in the early fall–I journey to the little mining town where so much of my youth was spent. Hoyt Lakes holds a raft of my early memories and today, without intending to, I touched many of them. My dad and mom are buried there; on a green slope beneath an old birch tree. I loaded the flower baskets into the trunk of my car and then spent several long minutes talking–first to my dad, and them my mother. Pictures in my mind of dad have become kinda hazy with the years–more than forty already–but mom’s face is etched pretty deeply. Good people, marvelous parents, one of God’s greatest gifts to me. As I walked around the cemetery I paused at the gravestones of many people that were dear friends during my years there. I left some tears behind and my prayers came through a throat thick with the many sadnesses of memories. One place I always visit is the grave of Father Thomas Stack, the priest that built the Queen of Peace Catholic Church that casts a shadow over the hilltop where he rests in peace.
I drove past the house on Wyandotte Road where our family lived and my heart hurt at the sight of neglect. Yet, the town has made it through the years in relatively good order. The ballfields, Community Center, Shopping center and NorthStar Lanes (where I had one of my first jobs), Birchcove beach . . . my head swirled with old times never lost.
There is a beauty to the drive across the eastern Mesabi Range. Aurora is a quiet old mining town that claims 1600 residents and boasts a multi-million dollar high school–Mesabi East. My old high school is a minor part of the impressive campus. The highway between Aurora and Biwabik passes one of the prettiest of many lakes across the Range. Lake Embarrass. A few miles north is the recreation mecca of Giant’s Ridge. Biwabik has taken on an Alpine motif that has a certain charm. And, Vi’s pizza has moved from the Urich kitchen to a location on the main street. Vi’s was my first pizza and remains my favorite–Sammy’s in Hibbing is a close second. As I skirt Gilbert I always remember college friendships–several Gilbert guys went to Winona State College where I did my undergraduate work.
Enough of the travelogue. The day was too gorgeous to be inside despite the Vikings on one channel and my beloved Twins on the other. When I got back to Hibbing I collected Gail and we drove south of town to a favorite fall color spot–Beauty Mountain Road. I had just got my Ranger pickup out of the shop and wanted to give her some road miles–about 18 of them, south on #73 past the Silica fire station. We were about one week too early to see all the panorama of colors but the hiking was fantastic! Trees with southeastern exposures were showing reds and yellows and ambers that were in stark contrast with the dark greens of pines. Beauty Lake was as clear and blue as the cloudless sky.
The Good Lord gave us a magnificent Sunday and I just had to share my part of it with you. God bless.
Oh, a PS for you sports fans: On the drive back I checked the postgame scores–Twins clobbered the Tigers and the Vikes beat the heavily favored 49’ers. Add to that, our Gophers are 4-0!