Archive for January, 2012

Root Beer Lady

Today I finished reading  Root Beer Lady, the Story of Dorothy Molter, by Bob Cary, published by Pfeifer-Hamilton of Duluth, Minnesota in 1993.  This book is about a woman who visited the Boundary Waters Canoe Area as a young woman, long before it was the BWCA, in 1934, and who decided to spend her life in the wilderness.  She worked at a wilderness resort with an older friend, Bill Berglund, until he died, and then took ownership of the resort herself, making her living by renting a few cabins to visitors and selling supplies at her little store.  She was self-sufficient and very strong and athletic, and did a lot of listening and watching to learn her wilderness skills.  She was a markswoman on her Chicago high school sports team, so was already a good shot, and her father, who was a security officer for railroads,  was a wilderness sports fisherman.  My mother gave me this book years ago.  It is signed by the author, who lives in Ely, Minnesota, which is pretty much the closest ‘urban’ area to Dorothy Molter’s Isle of the Pines ‘resort’.  This is a simple book, telling a regional story.  The important thing about regional stories is their fine grandularity. When you look at a larger issue (the BWCA, wilderness presevation, rules and regulations, priorities and principles) in the fine detail of a local-regional story such as this one, the simplicity of the larger issue is obscured. 

It is a good thing to have the large issues obscured. We need to remember the many sides of every story and problem.  We need to be challenged to explain what our principles and priorities really signify.  Dorothy Molter was a homesteader of a wilderness that could support very few, and in the eyes of the local people, she lived on and used her land gently and responsibly..  When Society at large decided there was some sort of value in restricting the use of land which she in fact owned, and restricting the way people could use the land, then Society took rights from her to live where she chose and to make a living as she had been for decades.  It’s not a very Libertarian thing to do, really.  (I deliberately used the word Society, not Government, because Government is only a tool of the tyrany of the powerful, whether that is the Majority, or the Wealthy or the 1%.)

I don’t necessarily recommend that you (in the sense of ‘you all’) read this particular book, but I do recommend stopping for a moment now and then to read som regional stories.  Because the world is not composed of the stories of issues.  It is the stories of people, one interesting and beautiful person at a time.



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It’s a bird

It's a bird

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