The weather seems to be a constant part of any conversation these days, and rightfully so. We seem to be caught in a vacuum of sorts – it’s either below zero and cold as the dickens or when it warms up, it snows. Either way, it reminds us that we are living in Minnesota and I personally wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Looking out on our back yard deck the other day, I watched as one of our resident squirrels was busily digging in the snow hoping to find some bird seed that had fallen from the feeder. My granddaughters, Emma and Ava were visiting so I called them into the room to see the squirrel. As the girls excitedly watched the bushy tailed rodent digging for food, my daughter-in-law Miranda exclaimed “that squirrel is as big as a cat” and she wasn’t exaggerating. We seem to have some pretty healthy squirrels in the neighborhood and luckily they aren’t living in my attic, garage or shed this year.
With the ”fun” winter that we have been experiencing, I would suspect there are quite a few of us that have been infected with the dreaded “cabin fever” virus. There is no sure cure for that outside of a spring thaw, but there are ways to cope with it while we suffer through the winter.
There were many times over the years when I would find myself in the sporting goods department of a local store ogling “open water” fishing lures and dreaming of sitting on a lake somewhere watching a bobber bouncing on the waves. Daydreaming is one of the most inexpensive ways to put your mind in a warm place even if your body can’t make the trip. Reading a good book about an outdoors adventure is another way that I like to put myself anywhere but in the driveway shoveling snow.
There are also various sportsmen’s shows held throughout the winter that can surely pacify you when you feel that need to see open water. There are also many outdoor festivals and fishing contests held throughout the area. Events like “The Big Freeze” which will be held in Albert Lea on February 15th, includes a Polar Plunge, Snowshoe Shuffle, Disc Golf Ice Bowl, snowmobile radar runs, skydiving, kids' winter carnival, sleigh rides, chili cook-off, Take-A-Kid Ice Fishing Geocaching, live music, and more! Most events held on Albert Lea and Fountain lakes.
There is also ice skating at local outdoor rinks, most of which have open warming houses on weekends. If you don’t have skates and have the urge to give it a try, you can go to the city arena on most Sunday nights and skate for $4, $3 if you have your own skates. That’s pretty cheap for an evening of fun entertainment.
Another fun winter outdoors activity is sledding, and how many folks don’t have a sledding memory or two from their childhood? When I look back to those winter days spent north of town, I can recall spending many a Saturday searching for that perfect hill. My neighbor, Kim Dilling, had a nice hill at his place, but it was short and had a few oak trees to maneuver around. I can remember many days dragging my Radio Flyer sled to a hill on the south side of the slough. That hill, to my surprise, is still there today, but for some reason it just doesn’t seem as big as it did when I was a kid.
As I grew older I got more mobile (driver’s license) and my sledding grounds expanded. I had gotten a toboggan for Christmas and this fueled my need for a bigger hill with more speed and thrills. The horse pasture on the Joe Juve farm had a nice long hill that was dotted with oak trees but was one that I could maneuver. We had quite a few fun sledding parties on that hill where the high school now sits.
Those were good times, simple times, of cold hands, cold wet feet, runny noses and a cup of hot chocolate topped with a marshmallow or two. Yes, maybe those fond memories of the fun of winters past are the real cure for the dreaded cabin fever.
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MUSKY TALK - The February meeting of Crossroads Chapter 54 will be Wednesday, February 12, at 7 p.m. at the Eagles Club in Owatonna. Our speaker will be John Underhill; he will report on the DNR round table plans for fisheries. This includes any proposals for musky management and musky lakes.
Also plans for our early spring musky banquet will be discussed. Our meetings are second Wednesday of every month. They include informative speakers, updates, door prizes, and raffle, and lots of musky talk. Need not be a member to attend. Bring a friend and help improve musky fishing in Southern Minnesota.
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Sadly, it just doesn’t look good for some of our area lakes, which are showing signs of winter kill. I don’t really buy the quote that the DNR had in Wednesday’s Tribune about not approving the application for aerators on Pickerel Lake because the game fish would still die off and the rough fish would survive. Didn’t they kill off the lake so there would be no rough fish? If that’s how aerators really work, then what’s the point?
Until next time, stay warm and get out and enjoy a little Minnesota winter fun.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.