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As we pass the mid-point of February I find myself fighting off that dreaded cabin fever virus that seems to have gotten a foothold in my mind. With each passing day I find myself daydreaming of those warm summer days spent by a lake. In all reality I know that those days are just around the corner, but that old saying “so near, yet so far” keeps popping up in my head.

I usually don’t mind winter, but the weather at this time of year can go from one extreme to the other in a heartbeat. I always have the memory of the spring of ’65 when I was driving milk truck for Conger Creamery. It was the first part of March and after a long snowy winter I was ready for spring. I had just started driving to Albert Lea with a load of skim milk when a freezing rain started, and by the time I had reached the edge of town all the streets and roads were glare ice. I had decided to outsmart the storm by taking the gravel and coming in the back way. That may very well have worked out, but for one small glitch. There was one steep hill on that road and at the top of that hill sat a van sideways in the road which I didn’t notice until I was about half way up the hill and had to back down without sliding in the ditch. Once the freezing rain stopped, the snow began and to this day I cannot recall experiencing a worse blizzard than that one. It took almost a week to run its course because the storm , and just as folks started digging out, another blast hit.

It was hard on the farmers because we couldn’t get to them with the milk trucks and some roads were drifted in so bad that anywhere there was a hill the tops of the power lines were barely visible sticking out of the snow. When the farmers had no way to get the milk to town they had to dump it down the drain and because winter is the time when cows produce the most milk, it resulted in a lot of lost revenue. Yes, those were the good old days and I probably shoveled more snow in that year than I have the rest of my life.

Although it hasn’t been a particularly harsh winter, bring on those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer and I will embrace them. Looking back, which I do quite frequently, I can recall the days when folks would drop in for a visit on a Sunday afternoon on the spur of the moment, whatever that means. My mom always had the fixin’s in the refrigerator for her famous potato salad and she also had cold meat and cheese on hand for sandwiches because visitors never went home without having lunch. Somewhere in our busy lives these types of occurrences have almost gone the way of speaking face to face with someone. I know it is the sign of the times, and the electronics of today have made talking to someone easier but also a lot less personal.

Mom and Dad had some close friends from Mason City named Chuck and Juanita who would stop by quite often and the folks in turn would visit them. Back in those days you didn’t call someone “long distance” just to see if they were home. You took a chance and hoped they were around or you set a date in advance. Looking back on those days I believe that some of the best times are the ones that just happen and are not planned. It seems as if we sometimes get too busy with our hectic lives to really take time to just enjoy the little things.

Ice fishing in the area has been pretty steady and judging by the number of houses on Fountain Lake a lot of folks are enjoying the season. If Albert Lea Lake had not frozen out last year a lot of these folks would, no doubt, be sitting on the ice in the channel. Hopefully we will make it through this year with no fish kill on any of our area lakes and the fish that have been stocked will get a chance to grow. It would be nice to see the big lake once again become a viable fishery.

My grandson Trevor just returned from a few days at the cabin and he fished a couple of bigger lakes in the area, namely Winnibigoshish and Bowstring, and he said that the fishing wasn’t the best, but they did manage to get a few jumbo perch and some northern. Fishing a big lake on your own can be a challenge if you have never been there before and he said that when he does it again he will try some smaller, more familiar, area lakes closer to the cabin. I’d have to think that it would be a fun experience for him and one that he will learn from. Not all visions of lunker walleye and slab crappie become reality, but then that’s just another part of fishing and it’s what keeps you coming back.

Until next time, stay warm and enjoy the beauty of winter and always take some time to enjoy the outdoors.

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.

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