Come to the Lake (County), Mr. President
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
Did you hear the news earlier this week that President Barack Obama sent a handwritten letter to Gary Snyder of Ely? The letter, which actually arrived last September, is to be placed in a time capsule this spring and entombed in a brick wall in Vermillion College’s Fine Arts Building. The capsule is to be reopened in 2063.
In his letter, the president said:
“Fifty years from now, I hope we have managed the balance between our energy needs and our need to preserve the planet so that the wilderness surrounding Ely remains as spectacular as you describe.”
While I would have been thrilled to receive such a letter, it was the last three phrases, in particular, that caught my eye — “as you describe.” Hmm. Is it possible that the president has never been to northern Minnesota?
He has been to the Twin Cities, I know because I waited outside for hours for the chance to hear him speak during Mark Dayton’s campaign for governor, but if he hasn’t been to Lake County, he’s missed some of the best our state has to offer.
Where else can he attend a St. Urho’s Day celebration like the one in Finland every year?
Not every town offers the opportunity to take part in an outhouse race, or stand just feet away from the docks from where Minnesota’s first shipment of iron ore — for the steel that build the world — originated in the late 1800s. He could do either in Two Harbors.
The president could dip his toes into Lake Superior, which contains 10 percent of the world’s fresh water — over 3 quadrillion gallons — more than all the other (semi) Great Lakes combined. And are there more beautiful vistas anywhere in the world than those visible from Palisade Head, Beaver Bay or Split Rock?
If the big lake isn’t enough water for him, he could drop a line into any of the other 841 lakes or 418 streams in the county.
Wilderness? We’ve got wilderness! The northern one-third of the county is Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.
And, seriously, Garrison Keillor may have coined the phrase “where the women are strong, the men are good looking and all the children are above average,” to describe the people of Lake Wobegon, but we know there’s no such town on the Minnesota map. I think the words came to him after a trip north.