Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Hello, I’m not exactly certain why I ever agreed to this, since I’m more of a do-er than a writer. I’m a guy, guys don’t write about life and mushy stuff. Okay, yes there’s that one author guy. When I say stuff like I just said, my wife, Beth, always brings him up. She loves his books. Great, so there’s one guy out there who makes a living writing believable mushy stuff and all of a sudden the rest of us are supposed to man up to mushy. Actually, I have a really good friend who talks like that author sometimes, but he’s not a writer. Still, here I am. Joy says it’s too cold out there to write today, so she volunteered me to introduce myself.
Fine. My name is Daniel Patrick Harrison, DH for short.
Apparently, that introduction wasn’t what Joy had in mind. I just got a look that could curdle milk. I’m more afraid of her than I am of writing, so here goes. I’m the police chief of Ely, Minnesota, and the co-founder (along with Jack Lockwood) of the Boundary Waters Search and Rescue Unit (BWSRU). Jack and I have been friends for over 20 years. We met back when he accepted a position as Donald Sloane’s business partner in a medical practice in ‘the middle of nowhere’, Montana. (Jack’s words, not mine). I happened to be the police chief of that small town at the time.
Jack’s a great doc and our area needed his expertise, particularly since Don hoped to retire sometime before his 80th birthday. Their practice spread out over miles of high prairie foothills and just after Jack started, I used the department’s helicopter to transport him and an injured rancher to the closest hospital. That was the beginning of our collaboration. Jack’s personal life had given him a passion for on-the-scene rescue. Over the next 20 years we formed combined service (law enforcement-EMT/physician) programs all over the country. From our small beginning in Montana to our recent contract with the United States Forest Service, the Ely police department and the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH) to create a professional rescue program dedicated to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, we continue to bring help to people who need it---quickly and safely.
While the paperwork is sometimes a headache (you try working with three different budgets sometime and you’ll see what I mean), Jack and I feel like we’ve landed right where we belong. This project is the capstone of our careers, if you will. It’s time to start thinking about going out on top. Jack and I are both in our early 50’s and still in the time of life where our conditioning permits doing our jobs. We passed a military caliber outdoor survival course that even the young bucks fail.
Like Jack, I love northern Minnesota, despite the blood-thirsty denizens that buzz around our heads for the better part of the summer (mosquitoes and black flies for the uninitiated). I especially love Ely, because Ely proper is where I met my wife, Beth. She runs the local bakery and coffee shop. I think I ate breakfast and lunch (the only two meals she’s open for) there for months before she really noticed me. We married last August and for the first time in my life I know what it means to have a soulmate. (Okay mushy fans, you happy?) Yes, I was married before, twice in fact. What can I say except I was young, selfish, and stupid? I don’t want to talk about it, except to say that two tours of Gulf War active duty as a chopper pilot and marriage don’t mix. Back to Beth, me, and how Jack fits into that equation. Jack is our closest friend and the three of us spend a lot of time camping, canoeing, cross-country skiing and climbing---at least when Jack and I aren’t working.
As much fun as the three of us have together, I keep hoping Jack will meet someone. I think the loss of his first wife (years ago) has stayed with him. I don’t want to say he’s still heartbroken, because in most ways he’s moved on with life. He does date on occasion, even got pretty serious with someone back when we were working together in Denver. But he’s still alone. And before you ask, no I won’t set him up---not again. The last time I did that it was a disaster. Okay, maybe disaster’s an overstatement, but Jack let me know my efforts on his behalf were not welcome. The thing is, we’re once again heading into the holiday season. Thanksgiving is next week, then comes Christmas. That's no time to be alone, especially with my friend's history. Jack is our chosen family and he’s very welcome in our home, but yet another year is ending and despite what he says, I think he’s given up. In fact, I’m certain he expects to spend the rest of his life alone. I don’t want that for him. It was different when I was unmarried. I didn’t fully realize how bleak the years ahead looked until I married Beth. Now? Well, it’s not up to me. Let’s just say I’m hoping that the universe is kind to my friend. He’s a great guy.
I guess that’s all. Joy is nodding at me with approval in her eyes. This wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, even though writing’s not my thing. I wish you and yours a happy holiday season. Right now, I have my work cut out for me, because the National Weather Service is predicting a major blizzard event staring sometime on Sunday night/Monday morning. That means I need to get both the department and the rescue service ready for action.