Yesterday I spent the work day in Aurora. It is one of the prettiest drives, that stretch on HWY 135 just past the Giant’s Ridge turn and Embarass Lake. Pines hug the shoulders, and you gently enter Aurora with her cozy, submerged Pine Grove Park. After a delightful 9:00 AM meeting, I excitedly landed at The Hive Coffee and Bakehouse for my meeting with two new Iron Rangers.
A community gathering place, the Hive is bright and friendly with delicious breakfast and lunch foods–including gluten free. I had the avocado toast on gluten free. (Try it, you’ll love it!) With forewarning, they will open up their back room for private meetings and gatherings. It is the perfect place for off worksite chats.
My meeting with the new Iron Rangers was informative. Both had relocated for work on the East Range. We talked about what drew them to the area, and what they liked. Values came up: family, outdoors. One of the new Iron Rangers described their visit in the hiring process. The first day of his visit there was terrible weather, and he almost rejected the job. The second day, the weather turned–and it was the day of the Hoyt Lakes Water Carnival. The new Iron Ranger attended was impressed with the family friendly event, where he didn’t see one t-shirt with a swear word on it. The sense of community drew him in.
We talked about Iron Range living and connecting with people. In other communities parents visit at school drop off and pick up–and thus new residents can meet folks. Not so here, it seems–and especially not in the frosty months. We talked about watching games at Mesabi East, the auditorium there, and the excellent educational offerings in comparison to other States. Northern Lights Music Festival tremendous art offerings came up. I got to see the East Range from altogether new viewpoints.
As I held my meeting with our new neighbors, in walked Erika, owner, baker, and chef. Even though I hadn’t been to the Hive in months, she greeted me by name and asked how I was doing. She asked about my job change and said she was happy to see me.
This is something I love about the small towns of the Iron Range. We still see each other.
As these new Iron Rangers settle in, they too will find those places they are recognized and perhaps greeted by name. For those of us comfortably ingrained, we can help these folks by cluing them into our favorites, inviting them for meals, and assisting with life hacks for living “up North.”
I, for one, am hoping to have some dinner company over the next month. Hearing other people’s stories is one of the best ways to expand my world.