Beginning of the Road

November 1996


With the winds up and snow trying to find a beach head in Ely it will not be long before we will be shoveling, snow blowing and scraping windshields.  Our battle against winter tests not only our spirits, but our car batteries. 

For many of us there is a respite, a shelter for our vehicle where snow can melt and frost canít get in.  This shelter is called a garage.  Most people have a garage.  For two winters I have not had the pleasure of a garage.  In year one we rented a log cabin sans garage.  During the second year my garage was stuffed with boxes and building supplies.  The first garage-less year in Ely was a shock. 

Having lived a pampered life in the suburbs, I was spoiled by a giant two car garage that was attached to my house.  In Ely, an attached garage is looked upon as an anomaly.  I have seen three garages built in Ely this summer.  Not one was attached to the house.  Even out-of-towners who build $100,000 log cabins build only detached garages.

I am not sure why we reject such a wonderful idea as attached garages.  Maybe we are just so enthralled with our own locally made winter fashions that we just canít wait to be outside in a 60 degree below wind-chill?  Maybe we donít want to smell the smoke from our garage woodstoves?  I canít figure it out.

Perhaps, it is because an Ely garage is a temple to manliness?  There are bigger differences between Ely and suburban garages.  Most suburban garages contain yard stuff: lawn mower, fertilizer spreader, leaf blower, hedger, weed wacker, edge trimmer and enough herbicides to take out every deadelion within five miles.  You will find no woodstove, no firewood and no tools.  They donít even have old refrigerators for beer!  They are very unmanly places. 

In Ely, a manís castle is his garage.  It is his sanctuary to accomplish the tasks of fighting the battle of nature.  Our woodstoves warm our batteries and engines.  Our tools can accomplish engineering miracles.  Some guys have so many tools I think they could make their own parts.  We have tools that the average suburban male wouldnít even know what to call. 

In suburbia, nature has been tamed.  The lawns are weedless, the flowers are from Bachmanís and God is in his heaven.  In Ely, most canít afford a new car every three years and probably belong to the 100,000 mile club.  We need to maintain our vehicles for a much harsher environment.  In suburbia they have no potholes.  The streets are plowed down to the pavement.  It is warmer.  They take their cars to brushless car washes twice a week.  Our poor cars must be able to take on not only nature, but Highway 169. 

It is the Ely garage that enables us to defeat winter.  More miracles occur in our small single car garages than all suburbia.  We maintain and repair civilization in these temples of tune-ups and oil changes.  Perhaps, that is why our garages are not attached to our homes.  It would be improper to attach a temple to your home.  It is no wonder we are looked upon as ďthe noble beast: by those who reside in the cities.  It is a nickname we should wear proudly, for we understand how a car works and that is more important than a weedless yard any day, in my book.

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