Home Sweet Home

I just got back from Canal Park, where it was too darn cold and too darn wet to take any photos of the waves crashing over the breakwater, or of the chunks of ice in the spray flying at our heads.

My three year old, who according to Garrison Keillor is truly a Duluthian, loved every minute of the wind whipping, the slush slushing and the hoots and hollers emitted by her non-Duluthian transplant parents. I was reminded of another night on the Lakewalk, six or seven months ago, when we walked with this same girl on a beautiful summer night and watched the full moon create sparkles on the lake. (Oddly, there was no ice flying at us–must have been the direction of the wind.) I remember thinking to myself that my family and I were so blessed to live in this city. And I felt that way again today, as we watched the Big Lake crash: We are so blessed to call this beautiful place home. And home it has become–Keillorian and unwritten codes of citizenship notwithstanding.

So, I ask you, transplants (and homers, if you like)–when did you know that Duluth was home?



about 12 years ago

"So, I ask you, transplants (and homers, if you like)-when did you know that Duluth was home?"

When, while spending this day in warm and humid Natchez, MS, I was really jealous that I wasn't in Duluth to experience the storm.


about 12 years ago

September 24, 2006. Odd that I know the date? I journaled about it that night:

"I've written about contentment (or lack thereof) in my sense of place before, which has been my state for pretty much all of my life, no matter which state I actually lived in. My motto has always been 'Wherever I am, I am there,' which basically means that I could fit into, could feel comfortable with any place I found myself. During my admissions job, I slept a new place almost every night and was fine wherever I was.

"But nowhere seemed like home.

"Tonight, I finally felt a sense of home, leaning back against my husband (the reason I moved up here) and watching the pale green lights flicker up and down the sky, shooting fingers of grace into the heavens.

"I didn't know where I would end up, if I would ever find such a place as 'home,' a place I've often heard others speak of but one that I've never truly experienced with complete contentment before. A place of pure belonging and satisfaction in being.

"For me, it appears that this is a place with night water that glows with lights from the city and large ore boats, shining brightly on the lake's corrugated surface. It is a place of unexpected grace, brightening a darkened sky with feathery wings of diaphanous and ephemeral splendor. It is a place where I can lean back and see all this, spread out before me, and be held tightly by one who cares beyond seeming possibility."


about 12 years ago

When I had to leave it in August of '11. I hadn't felt at home anyplace since I was about 13 years old. Now when we visit from Onamia, MN, I still stay "let's go home!"


about 12 years ago

Our sweet yellow lab Emma, the Mister, and I were hiking a few years ago on Cascade River.  In the middle of the hike, old Emma swam into the river, climbed up on the rock, basked in the sun, smiled, and was the complete picture of Doggie Bliss.  We did the same.  I realized then just how much I love living here.  

I will never forget the first time I saw Duluth; driving up I-35 from Mpls for my first real job, I got to the top, you know the point where suddenly half the earth drops away, you see the Lake, and see that little sign that say, simply, "Duluth."  I couldn't believe the beauty of it.  I still can't.

Now when Mr Emmadogs and I talk about retirement, I realize I just don't want to leave here, not permanently anyway.


about 12 years ago

I grew up in the Chicago area, and went to a Concordia Language camp (Hei Skogfjorden!) in Bemidji when I was about 11. A girl named Tori was in my cabin. She was the coolest girl I had ever met. (She had a snake for a pet!) But I never saw Duluth. When I was an adult, the school I worked for took a group of students on a kayaking trip to the Apostle Islands every year, which was always my favorite time of the work-year. One time it was a particularly clear day, and the guide pointed across the water and said, "Over there is Duluth." For some reason, it felt like he was pointing to OZ.

Some years later, I met someone who cried when I asked her to move to Chicago. So I packed up and moved to Duluth, without thinking about it too deeply. We broke up soon after, but I didn't even think of leaving. It might have been how that first winter, which was the one of the coldest and snowiest on record, I depended completely upon wood heat and had to chop my wood out of a glacier in the backyard because I had neglected to pile it up like a responsible person. I read books all winter long about Justine Kerfoot and the Boundary Waters and all the ways winter can be, and I felt it so keenly, sitting there learning to heat my home, living in a magical house in the West End. 

I really think all it took was one winter and I was hooked. I met all kinds of cool and strange people, I worked in the weirdest bookstore on the planet, and learned to live on an income that was a tiny fraction of what I earned in Chicago. 

I have always been pulled northward--like my fantasy running away has always been to get in a car and drive north without a map, just going until the roads stop. Duluth isn't exactly where the roads stop, but sometimes feels like it. 

One year, I took a three week driving vacation around the Great Lakes to Maine and back. I remember coming around the top of Lake Superior, and catching a scent in the air, and thinking "I'm back in my home ecosystem" and giving a big happy sigh. 

It's a good place. I look forward to growing very old and decrepit here, shaking my cane over my head when there's a snowstorm and whooping it up.


about 12 years ago

[Damn. I deleted the part where I said that Tori was from Duluth.]


about 12 years ago

I decided to come to school here from California only having some extended family in the area, but really not knowing anyone.  My second year of school was the first year I lived here year round.  I knew it was home when I began looking at leaving to go to grad school, and that thought made me incredibly sad.  But that turned out to be an easy problem to solve: go to grad school at UMD.  My partner and I are incredibly happy to make Duluth our permanent home.


about 12 years ago

I was born and raised in Duluth, but I didn't realize how beautiful the city was until I left. I spent a year abroad and when I came back my dad picked me up at the Minneapolis airport. I slept the whole way up, but my dad woke me as we got to Spirit Mountain. It was night and the city lights were shining as we came up and over the hill. I knew right then that I was home, and that Duluth is just as lovely as any of the foreign places I had been.


about 12 years ago

Hearing the sound of a laker's horn as it  entered the canal at dawn.  That was 1967.


about 12 years ago

Damn, you guys are killing me. I was wishing I could have been there on Wednesday with that crazy weather.  I have loved Duluth since I was a kid, but until a year and a half ago we would only get up there once or twice a year. Then we bought a cabin in Duluth. Now we go up about every other weekend and love it. I really want to move to Duluth full time but my wife and I know we are going to have to wait 20 years or so until we retire. I do worry that moving up there full time will take away some of the mystique, but after reading your stories I wonder.


about 12 years ago

Not sure when -- but I was on a plane back from Chicago (where I came from 11 years ago)...looked down onto the trees and lake and thought "home." Of course -- then===home is where the cats are.


about 12 years ago

My father died of a stroke the day before we were supposed head to Duluth for a family trip.  I was fourteen.  I moved here seven years later, met the love of my life and now after a decade I've never felt more "home" than I do in Duluth.  I've lived and visited places all over this country, I hit the jackpot when I decided on Duluth.  And as far as I'm concerned, our natural resources (as absolutely amazing as they are) take second place to the wonderful people that live here.  I've joked with the wife during really cold snaps that we're outta here when we retire but deep down inside, I know better.  I love it here.  Go Bulldogs!!!

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