Nordic Saga

Each of us holds dear what is important, however, that thing of great value is not necessarily universal. Let me share a case in point. I visit diverse families in the course of doing my job as a home energy advisor – many are Scandinavian. Recently I met an 86 year old Norwegian who lived on his family’s “Century” farmstead, just outside of the small town of Holdingford. As I sat with my client at the kitchen table, something caught my eye outside of the bay window. There, on a raised mound surrounded by pansies and purple irises, sat a huge fossilized bone. It appeared to be a section of backbone, a vertebrae standing over two feet tall. I asked Lars, “What’s the story behind the fossil?”

His old blue eyes flashed and he responded, “How much time do you have – it’s a bit of a tale?”

“Enough,” said I.

“Before Grandpa Finn took a wife, he lived all alone in a one-room cabin – do you see it – over there next to the milking parlor? Over the years a red fox with a black face started to hang around the cows. He would dart in and lap up the spilled milk. Grandpa tolerated his antics, and as time passed, the fox lost his natural fear. Grandpa and the black fox became friends. If anyone else came to the farm, the fox would vanish like a spirit.

“One fall day Grandpa Finn took a hike down to the north 40 woods. He saw his black fox sitting next to a hole in the ground. He approached and the fox disappeared. After a closer look-see, Grandpa discovered that the fox had found the entrance to a here-to-fore undiscovered cave. Grandpa went back to the log cabin and retrieved a kerosene lantern, and returned.

“He squeezed through the narrow opening, slid down a smooth rock ledge and found himself standing in a cavern. It was bigger than his one room cabin. The black fox appeared by his side, peering up at Grandpa Finn. Then the fox walked to the far end of the chamber, to a smaller passageway. Grandpa Finn followed. The fox stopped and pawed at the cave floor, partially unearthing a white object. It appeared to be a large bone embedded in the limestone. Grandpa Finn’s curiosity was peaked. Over the next months, in all of his spare time, he worked at carefully extracting his find from the limestone. Finally one spring day he lifted the massive object from its limestone crypt. It was a sight to behold. He hefted it up – as heavy as a hundred weight milking can, and carried it to the center of the main cavern. He set it down on a wool blanket and walked around his prize with the kerosene lantern. His gaze fell upon a mystifying sight. In one of the clefts of the fossilized vertebrae lodged a perfectly formed stone spear point, half embedded into the bone. This unknown creature had been felled by an ancient hunter –by a man with a spear!”

“Have you ever had the fossil identified or dated?’ I blurted out.

“No.” said Lars. “Grandpa Finn was a private sort, and he didn’t want any of the neighbors to know about the cave or the fossil. His business was his business. His cave was his cave, and he especially didn’t want anyone poking around the farm or endangering his black fox.”

“Do you mind if we go out and get a closer look at the fossil?”

“Sure, why not. Let’s go and see.”

We walked around the great white mystery, stopping to examine the stone spear-point.

“Do you realize what this is?” I asked.

“Grandpa Finn had some ideas.”

“It is a segment of the back-bone of a dinosaur. It’s far too large to be from a wooly mammoth. That means that it may be many millions of years old. It could be priceless. And the fact that a man – an ancient hunter killed it may change history as we know it. Don’t you think that you should find a safer place to store it, at least until you have an expert identify it? This could be the greatest find in modern history.”

“Who wants an old bone in the parlor? And another thing, it’s part of Grandpa Finn’s life – that is all the history that matters to me.”

“But think of what the relic could be worth to your family.”

“Well, Grandpa Finn always had enough. The farm provided for all of his needs, and in time, our needs. All the extra money in the world, or notoriety, wouldn’t improve our life here on the farm. You see, what was important to Grandpa Finn was that thing that he treasured.”

And with that, I departed. I tried to imagine the mind of Grandpa Finn, and the worth of that black fox.

August energy tips: The monster in your basement – Radon gas. What is radon? It is an odorless, colorless gas that seeps up through the soil. It usually appears in your basement. Radon gas is formed from the natural decay of Uranium in the soil. In Minnesota, radon levels vary county by county.

How can radon hurt you? Long term exposure can damage the cells that line the lung and may even cause lung cancer. In Minnesota, 2 out of 5 homes have high radon levels. In our area, two out of four counties are subject to excessive radon. Stearns and Sherburne Counties are high; Morrison and Benton County not so bad.

How do you know if you have a problem? Test your house with an inexpensive test kit that you can place for three to seven days in the lowest living area. You can order the kit on-line at:

If you send the test in, they will send you back the results. The magic number is 4. If higher than 4.0 (pCi/L), consider installing radon mitigation.

Radon mitigation: This usually entails installing a sump-type basket or collection pipe holes in the basement (to create collection pockets under the concrete slab).  A Radon gas exhaust pipe is installed (has to be vented out through the roof, fan assisted). Every gap and crack in the basement, including exhaust pipe surrounds, must be sealed. Cost: from $1200 to $1,700, depending on the building characteristics. Hire a state licensed radon mitigation contractor to get the job done right.

Tri-CAP August 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund