[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ Meeting Minutes

Title: Meeting Minutes
An Allegory:
Blacksmithing and the Fate of Deer Lake

When I go down the driveway to the blacksmith shop Iım usually in one of two modes (and moods):
Mode 1.  I know what Iım going to make.  Itıs usually some object Iım making for someone according to specifications that I canıt mess with.  Mood:  O.K., but not the best.
Mode 2.  I have no idea what Iım going to make. Mood:  The best.
First, I clean unburned coke and ashes from the firepot.   A dirty job I donıt like but must complete in order to enjoy the fun that follows.  I bring dry Mining Journals from the house so theyıll burn hotter.  It takes four, full-sized pages wadded up in each corner of the firepot.  The Mining Journal always has a half sheet in each issue, and that gets wadded up into a smaller ball and crammed into the center of the other four wads.  A couple of handfuls of hard maple which has been split and sawed into alphabet-block-sized cubes goes on top of the paper.  Then some coke is raked onto the sides and back of the firepot and on top of the paper and wood.
Now, itıs time for the pyro-fun.  With a kitchen match, the wadded newspaper is torched at the front of the firepot.  I let it smolder down into the layers a bit and then turn on the blast.  My blower is an old hand-crank job whose innards gave up the ghost. I subsequently cleaned out all the broken gears from the inside and replaced the crank with an electric motor to run the fan.  So, now, I just turn on the switch and adjust the size of the air intake opening on the side.  Lazy decadence, I know.  The smoldering paper begins to roar while coke is raked around all sides of the flame and pushed into a small volcano with tongues of pinkish-blue plasma shooting upward through the funnel.  The paper burns hot enough to ignite the wood which burns hot enough to ignite the coke.  When everything gets cooking, the center of the flaming mass will be at a temperature of about 2500 degrees F., hot enough to ignite steel.
>From my stock of raw material I select a foot long piece of half inch re-rod and decide to make a wall hook with a leaf on the top end.  At last!  I jab one end of the steel into the yellow-white conflagration where it changes color from dull, rusty gray to red to yellow to nearly white where it will be on the verge of igniting, a stage signaled by tiny sparks shooting upward.  A pyromaniacs' dream come true!  The metalıs state is now near liquid and it can be shaped ad infinitum with hammer and anvil, or bent and twisted in the vice.  This violent reaction of blast-furnace heat and smooshing and twisting and crunching of atomic crystals of iron yields a metamorphosis.  A hunk of innominate, inorganic substance is transmuted into an organic metaphor for a living being.
One doesnıt have much time to admire the progress of the creation while busy tending the fire, watching to make sure the steel doesnıt burn up in the fire,etc.  So, I often bring the final draft to the house after Iıve shut down the forge and closed up the shop.  While taking a rest in my easy chair, I like to turn the piece over and over while viewing it from all sides to see if the twists and turns all meld into and compliment one another.  Best of all,  after Iıve had a chance to study the product for awhile Iım often amazed at the result.  Itıs almost like Iım enjoying looking at someone elseıs work.  Sometimes thereıs a dimensional incongruity that sort of subliminally bugs me; so, on another day, I will take the hook back to the forge to reheat it in order to tweak a curve or a twist or a bend into a more aesthetically pleasing final product.
I received a phone call last week from Chris Kimar informing me Chairman Greg Quinn wanted to have a meeting of the Deer Lake Subcommittee Monday, April 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Deer Lake.  Members Greg Quinn, Brian Bresette, Adair Mica, Chris Kimar, and I were present.  John Howko was not present, probably because he was never informed of the meeting.  This fact became evident when someone asked if he were coming followed by all of us giving each other the "was I supposed to call him?" look.  Consequently, we agreed not to vote on anything; but, of course, we did, in effect, vote.
As Greg began the meeting it was clear he wished to operate in Mode 1, essentially considering what the MDNR has told us what they are going to do.  (Another unpleasant blacksmithing job is sifting the ashes cleaned from the firepot.  Even though I just purchased a ton, I conserve coke by not throwing away unburned pieces mixed with the cinders from the firepot.  I sift the waste by shaking it on a piece of hardware cloth over a metal tub---a  dirty, dusty chore.) As we began sifting the DNR mix, it became clear to all of us that we had no idea what the DNR planned to do.  The only point we were sure about is that the beginning of the access road would be by the pond on M-28.  From there on, we guessed.  How far around the pond would the how-wide road go before turning into what part of the forest to join the parking lot of how many spaces in which portion of the woods to access the launch ramp situated on what part of the shoreline and dredged how wide, how deep, and how far out into the lake?
As we neared the edge of Deer Lake the fuel in the firepot was readied for ignition.  We reached the shore where the DNR had cut a survey line resulting in a little clearing with an orange-topped stake pounded into the crest of a sand bluff, next to a 100-150  year old white pine, 6-8 ft above the wetland which extends 40-50 ft away from the bank before encountering the normal low water level of the lake's edge.
The iron was inserted into the fire as we exchanged opinions on the assumed impact upon the ecosystem, i.e. those who love big, old trees versus those who donıt.  Sparks began to fly when Greg called me a liar for referring to the forest as "ancient!"  I resigned from the Subcommittee.  He apologized.  I was re-appointed.
We kept the temperature at a working level as we visited the Alternative Proposal site near the MDOT park.  The iron kept getting hot, worked on, cooled off, heated up, etc., but never again to the sparking stage.
By the time we got back to where the vehicles were parked at the turn-off to the pond by M-28, our work had cooled down enough to where we could take a more careful look.  A miracle!  We had forged two plans upon which we could all agree,  reservations on both sides notwithstanding.
The Alternative Plan.  The boat launch would be entirely on MDOT property.  Parking would be in the south part of the present asphalt lot.  The present toilets would serve all persons including those launching boats.  An access road would have to be graded from the parking lot to the lake with handicap access.  But, there is no high bank there, so bulldozing afterbirth would be minimal.   And, there are no large trees in the way.  Electric motors only; no gas motors would be allowed on the lake.  At present, the grace period for landowners is not in the plan.  I am in favor of it, but it will have to be fought for if it is to be part of the final recommendation.  Everyone agreed they would support this plan.  The catch---I have to convince MDOT to go along with it!  Which means we have to.  I, obviously, can't do it alone.  I'm sure MDOT will regard the proposal as about as appetizing as a quart of castor oil!  But, I keep repeating to myself, "They work for us.  They're spending our money.  They're supposed to do what we want them to do."  They should give us ample opportunity to demonstrate the merits and feasibility of our plan.  And, if we can show our plan will benefit all the citizens of the State and is cost effective, they should implement the plan.
Possible scenarios:  MDNR takes over the entire park, employs our plan, takes full credit for it , with our blessings, earns accolades from environmental groups nation-wide for being so environmentally conscientious!  Or, MDOT and MDNR cooperate in managing their respective attractions.  MDOT, for example, wouldnıt charge the MDNR more money (our money) for the land switcheroo.  And, MDNR designates forest and pond as a Natural Area to preserve it and save it for the people.  Or, MDNR, as an act of revenge, sells land to a developer.  No problem.  They have to put it out on bids, first.  Collectively, we can outbid them, purchase the land, and turn it into a nature preserve for the rest of the history of the Earth.  Eco-developers!
The Modified MDNR Plan.  Rather than traversing the bank around the pond, the access road would come in from the East Deer Lake road toward the southeast corner of the lake on the existing old road through the dump near the entrance to Heikkilaıs driveway.  This would require negotiations between MDNR and Mr. Heikkila over who owns what and where at the confluence of the respective properties.  The parking lot would be smaller than the original plan for 18 spaces.  One committee member suggested a maximum of 6.  I will fight for a maximum of 4 with one designated handicap space for a total of 5.  The ramp would be toward the juncture of private land and MDNR land on the southwest border. Gas motors would be banned; electric motors permitted.  Handicap access will be provided.  A pit toilet will be constructed and a fence erected.  Dredging would still be required through the wetland and bulldozing down a sand embankment.  Fewer, but still many large trees would die. We reached consensus on this plan, while remaining faithful to our respective points of view.
I view this as a last resort compromise.  It would be easier to support were it not for the damage that will be done to the forest, wetland, and shoreline.  It certainly doesnıt compare in scope to the degradation that would be wrought by carrying out the original MDNR plan.
 As you can see, we didnıt vote, but we did.  Next meeting is about a month from now.
Greg is going to request that the MDNR provide concrete data with respect to their plans.  Iım supposed to inquire as to whether MDOT will go along with the Alternative Proposal.  Adair is going to tie ribbons around all the big trees that must be saved before a permit is to be issued.
Some members of the Committee want to rush the process as much as possible; some hope to slow it down as much as possible.  We all need time to think about it and time to tweak the twists and curves and bends before we're satisfied with the final product.
Don Snitgen, Shelter Bay, April 20, 1999