Another day in paradise is about how I feel when the temperatures get into the 20s in January. We have been experiencing some downright cold temperatures for the past couple of weeks, but now it is getting to be more livable, so enjoy it while it lasts. Funny how we put things in perspective: in the fall 40 degrees is really very cold to us, but in the spring or late winter it almost seems like sunscreen and T-shirt weather.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not pining for the days of high humidity and swatting mosquitoes for exercise just yet, but if we end up having a long winter those days might start looking pretty good. The one thing about living in Minnesota is that we will never run out of things to whine about. Too cold, too hot, too much snow, not enough moisture, will it ever quit raining, and on and on it goes. This is part of our heritage, and we Minnesotans have fine-tuned the art of weather talk and actually have taken it to another level. I wonder how many times we’ve watched national news channels and they have some reporter saying it was 20 degrees in another state and we have just scoffed and thought that it’s “nothing like Minnesota weather?” Then there was the snow storm in Buffalo, New York that left them with 8 feet of snow; I guess we can stop feeling sorry for ourselves after that one.
After a late start, the outdoor ice rinks are in good shape and being used. The milder weather should make for some great outdoors fun at a neighborhood rink. As a kid, my skating was pretty much confined to the local pond that existed at one time just about straight across Bridge Avenue from where Oak Park Place is today. Our other option was to skate on the lake which involved some travel. Our world in those days didn’t involve parents just dropping kids off and picking them up like in today’s world.
We had to make our own fun and if we wanted to get adventuresome and explore new horizons it involved walking in the winter or riding your bike in the summer. When we got old enough to get a driver’s license our whole world expanded. Kenny my neighbor had a sister who lived on the lake and we went there a couple of times for a skating party. We had a fire going and when we decided to take a break it was time for hot chocolate. Being mobile also meant that we could have sledding parties and we would get permission from Joe Juve, who owned the farm where the high school is today. I had a toboggan that I had gotten for Christmas a few years earlier and that baby would fly down that hill. We would try to do the sledding parties on a moonlit night so that we could see where we were going. The biggest problem with the hill in that pasture was maneuvering around a few oak trees that dotted the hillside. Going to someone’s house after sledding or skating for hot chocolate was a great way to top off a fun night. Those were fun times and an inexpensive way to enjoy an evening of fun with a bunch of friends.
I have written before about the times when we were in high school and would take the toboggan, a long sturdy rope and head out on a snow-packed country road for a little harmless fun. I did say harmless fun but I did not say safe fun. This is probably where I should say “kids, don’t try this at home,” because it can lead to no good. My friend Pat’s folks were out of town so we used their Jeep Wagoneer for this great adventure. We tied the rope to the toboggan and to the bumper of the vehicle and would take turns getting pulled along bounding from ditch to ditch being careful to avoid a field drive. This was a real rush, but like all good things it came to an abrupt end when Pat got too close to the edge of the road and we rolled the Jeep Wagoneer. Luckily we all escaped unscathed except for a few minor bumps and bruises.
After getting a nice farmer to pull us out of the ditch and help us get the vehicle upright we were able to get it started and drive away. We spent the next morning trying to kick the dent out of the roof in a ridiculous and feeble attempt to save Pat’s hide. We were pretty desperate to even think that nobody would notice the roof had sunken in. It took a while for that one to blow over and that also ended our sledding behind a moving vehicle.
Yes, those were the “good old days” when you made your own fun, but sometimes we couldn’t tell the difference between safe fun and dumb fun. As a kid growing up in that era it seemed like me and my friends always seemed to think that it was more fun if you played just a little closer to the edge.
I haven’t heard many recent fishing reports from area lakes, but from earlier I had heard that fishermen on Fountain Lake there were catching panfish, perch and a few walleye and northern were also being caught. Remember that there is no such thing as safe ice so always know the conditions before venturing out.
Until next time, try spending a little time outdoors and making some “safe” fun of your own.
Please keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the upcoming year. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we enjoy today.