.......................................... Strix the harbinger
...........................................guards OakWood's gate, ever asking,
.............. . ......................................"Whooo passes this night?"

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Style

It's below zero and the windchill is tough. I cope by dressing for it, wearing heavy, leather trimmed Orvis cords and layers of wool stitched together by the fine folks at Filson Woolens (for which I've been getting a raft of shit from an email group of gentlemen who live in tropical places .... like ... Michigan). It all made me recall this from a few years ago. Here's to winter and the Old Man, who taught me how to dress for conditions, not for style.





The Old Man’s winter was warm

A time for layers of wool and leather

Pendleton shirt, leather vest, open coat

Whipcord wool pants loosely tucked

In unzipped rubber overshoes

Mackinaw cap worn flaps up

Tie strings dangling

I am older by five years than my Old Man lived

Yet day by day becoming more like him

Out and about on my northland business

Filson cruiser with a shearling collar

And matching woolen cap

Warm against the biting wind

Flap strings still undone

Passing by dark store windows

I sense his presence and glimpse

A walking stride for stride reflection

Of an Old Man in wool and leather

We both smile and nod, knowing

"You cannot put a price on personal comfort."

Overcome By Romance?

This is the three Hanson sisters and husbands, including myself. It is in Bella's, an Italian restaurant in Alexandria, Minnesota, which has been voted "Minnesota's most romantic restaurant". 'Romantic' is very subjective, but taking no chances, we all sat with our partners in case we were overcome by romance. Romantic? Well, we were serenaded with Volare by the waitress Frankie, an older woman who learned the song as a child Italy. I did not find it particularily romantic, but the food was maybe the best Italian meal I have ever eaten and Frankie sang a capella on key. Can't ask for more than that.


Hygge and Goatherding

The word this Christmas is hygge, pronounced hyu-gah, a Danish word loosely translated as "cozy sanctuary, good food and drink, quiet conversation with friends". Christmas Eve we had a simple meal with our friend - corn chowder served in mismatched handthrown bowls, coarse bread, sharp cheeses and red wine. After the meal we moved to the small den for sweets and coffee - all very, very hygge. Well, maybe not the iPhone. 
On a small table at the end of the den there is an old framed picture, and a small wood carving - the bottom reading "Henning - hand carved in Norway". 

As a young woman our friend lived and traveled through Europe for about 15 years. In 1975 she was living in Norway, making a living tending goats. The picture is a photo of her milking a goat. She said it was in newspapers all over Norway (a slow news day?). 

This past summer she was in Norway visiting a cousin. He gave her the woodcarving which he had found in a used junk store. Looking closely at the carving it becomes obvious that it was inspired by the photograph.

Our friend found a woodcarving in a foreign country of her younger self milking a goat. 

The arcs have been joined; the circle has been completed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kirby Miles Berg


My brother Kirby died 24 years ago today in a house fire. He would have been 53 years old. 

In this past year he became a grandfather. I wonder. What other things could he have become? 


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Parkway Pub

Lanesboro has a number of places to eat, but a shortage of pubs. The Village Hall has a bar with a few draft beers, the Pedal Pusher has half a dozen taps with various Minnesota beers, but they are both really restaurants, not pubs serving good bar food. There are a couple of bar bars in town with big screen T.V.s and the almost perennial banners advertising "Sale on Bud Lite". While these are necessary fixtures in any small town they aren't the kind of place any aging beer-boy hipster would normally frequent. I have always thought that the village with its tourist based economy really needed a brew pub with a few craft beers on tap. 

(This is a serious wake-up call to Riverside On the Root - you have a great location, passable food, fun outdoor music ... and an absolutely dreadful beer selection. No EPAs? No IPAs? None?) 

One of the bar bars is the Parkway Pub, the three story building in the Google street shot.
The rumors: 

The Parkway has been purchased by a local couple who have plans to add an indoor stairway to access an upstairs group room and to remodel the main floor bar into an "Irish style pub". I have no idea what their idea of an Irish pub is. I realize they won't likely be brewing beer (yet?). As my tastes are undoubtedly extreme and narrow-minded, I'll likely be disappointed in the beer selection. I think Guinness stout and it's ilk are incredibly overrated compared with almost any American style ale craft beer. "Guinness: brewing quite ordinary beer since 1756".

Whatever, I'm all for the effort. If they don't turn it into a Disneyland version of an Irish Pub, I may even sidle up to the bar and force myself to choke down a Guinness. Or two.