March 23, 2000

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


With this nice weather coming so early I have noticed some people getting that same weird look I saw before January 1. You remember all those worry warts that thought Y2K was the beginning of the end? Well, now those same people are worried that all the fallen timber in the BWCA is going to catch fire and cause a cataclysmic conflagration. They believe flames as high as the clouds will slowly march towards Ely from all directions. We will all be trapped and burned alive.

Those with no long-term memories think this is the first winter where the snow has been almost nonexistent. Some survivalist types might think this is all a sign from heaven. Indeed, maybe God has listened to the good Reverend Billy Sunday who once stated that the only difference between Hell and Ely was that Ely had a road going out of it. I have always wondered why so many people from Chicago came to live in Ely and reflecting on Rev. Sundayís comment, I guess I can see why. Living up in the wilderness can try your soul and if you are destined for Hell you might as well start getting use to it now. In any case, I feel comfortable in Ely so I guess Hell was meant for the likes of me.

If we are headed for a cataclysmic conflagration, it is time we start to prepare. I figure I better try and convert my Y2K generator into a gas powered water pump so I can try and protect my house. As a water source we decided to flood the basement. Normally, we already have water in our basementÖanother Ely tradition! This year, I havenít had to turn on the old dehumidifier. I sort of miss the little rivers flowing down our stone foundation to the floor drain. Hmmmm! Perhaps, the survivalists are right this time. Eventually, all madmen start to make some sense. Just look at our Governor for heavenís sake. Perhaps we need to gather as a community and start to plan for our mutual protection.

We all canít be as prepared as the Morris Township Fire Department. So, for the benefit of us all, I have spent countless hours surfing the Internet for ideas on how we can survive the biggest fire since Chicago burned to the ground. After all, how can Nature expect to outwit the power of the Internet?

The first thing is we need to do is pump out the mines and furnish them as a fire shelter, just in case we need to retreat to safety. Since this is an election year, I am sure we can convince our politicians to give us the 566 million dollars to drain and refurbish the mines.

The next thing is when the fire starts to come close to Ely we can all flush our toilets at the same time. This will result in the immediate bursting of our sewer system. The resultant flooding in the streets will keep the fire from spreading. An extra bonus in this plan is that after all our toilet tanks refill, the rebound in the water tower will cause it to burst. Water will come raining down on us all and it will wet every roof in town.

Yes, between the man-made rain and the streets flooded with septic fluids, our town will be perfectly safe from any approaching fire and brimstone. My daughters have informed me that this will probably not be enough to safeguard us from a Hades on Earth. They suggest that we create a wall of Dr. Pepper bottles all away around Ely. When the fire hits the Dr. Pepper it will explode and release a huge spray of carbonated pop. Between the sudden increase in carbon dioxide and caffeine the fire would be stopped in its tracks. They promise not to go and sneak any free bottles of their favorite pop.

Others have suggested we invite Al Gore and George W. Bush to come and bore the fire out. To this there is some merit, but we run the risk of having to listen to endless campaign speeches. Now that would be a fate worse than death. I am sure most of us would rather burn.

Another good idea is to make it the governmentís job to keep the fire going. I am sure that if they gave this job to the Census Bureau we could rest at night knowing the fire would never reach us. After all, how effective do you think an organization is that recently mailed over 20 million miss-addressed letters that included a useless prepaid return envelope? Putting the Census Bureau in charge of keeping the fire going looks like the best bet so far.

Now I know the postal service will feel slighted if we left them out, so I propose to let them deliver fire reports to the Census Bureau. By letting government solve our fire problem we do run the risk of having the whole legislature from St. Paul coming up to Ely demanding their fair share of attention. Then comes the National Press, complete with Dan Rather and Barbara Walters. If Ely didnít deserve to go up in smoke it sure would with those kinds of folks around. The next thing you know the government will want to re-enact the Waco fire in Ely and weíll all be toast. It is when you realize how government works that ideas like city-wide toilet flushing start to sound pretty sensible after all. Now that is a scary.


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