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Saturday, November 10, 2012


Saturday, 7:30 AM.  38 degrees F, wind SSW, blustery at times.  The fog is rolling in from the channel and it is misty, not quite raining.  It is an uncertain day.
        This morning I and a few other volunteers will be sowing native grass and wildflower seed on a portion of the new trail head to the city’s Brownstone Trail, which is a highly used and quite scenic trail along an abandoned railroad right of way which leads along the lake shore between the Black Hawk marina and new city boat ramp to Port Superior several miles south of the city.
        I won’t try to go into all the details of the seed mix, suffice it to say that they are sun-loving prairie grasses, including big and little bluestem, side-oats grama, switch grass and Indian grass, and ninety different forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants, AKA wild flowers).  It will take perhaps three years for many of the flowers to bloom, but the little patch of about an eighth of and acre will be a diverse and colorful sunny spot along the trail.  It won’t take long to mix the seed with sand as a dispersal agent, to sow it by hand, rake it in and cover it with straw, but the weather is iffy and if things are too wet we will delay the project so as not to make a mess of things.
        As long as we are on the subject of native plants, I would like to bring up the subject of an endangered species, one certainly upon the brink of extinction.  I speak of the traditional barber shop, where I and most guys used to get our hair cut.  Oly’s Bayfield Barber Shop, touted as Wisconsin’s northernmost tonsorial parlor, has closed.  Oly has retired, tired of standing on his feet all day.  One might say that yesterday Oly was tired, and today he is re-tired.  He sold his two antique barber chairs and the barber pole, packed his AWOL bag and moved to Arizona and a climate more amenable to his arthritis. 
        I am joking about this, but it is really not a laughing matter, as now I must go (and did so yesterday) all the way to Ashland to get my hair cut at, would you believe, the Walmart salon.  Actually, the gal did as good a job as Oly, for about the same price (you might say that I didn’t get clipped when I got clipped, sort of like Who’s On First…) 
        But, she wasn’t Oly, who always gave me not just a haircut but all the local gossip and latest Bayfield business news, along with a lot of opinions, some of which I agreed with and many that I didn’t but said nothing because he was skilled in the use of sharp implements.         
        The barber shop used to be a half mile away, now it is twenty-five miles, one way, and  the only way I can justify getting a haircut is to do a lot of shopping at Walmart.  Lots of guys hereabouts have given up getting their hair cut at all and wear their hair in a pony tail that may hang down their back as far as their belt.  Up here that actually goes over pretty well, as that is Indian style, and most guys now blend right in while stalking the woods, or the slots in the casinos.  My problem is I can’t stand long hair, or for that matter a beard or a mustache.  So Walmart it is.
        Bayfield has now lost its barbershop, along with its dentist office, and its drugstore.  It hasn’t had a doctor’s office or a shoe store in generations.  It still has a gas station, a hardware store and a lumber yard, but if even one of those goes…come to think of it, it’s not just the barber shop that is endangered.

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