All I want for ChristmasOver the holidays I’d planned on doing some ice fishing. I’d heard from some of the guys I run into at the Food Mart that the inland lakes were a little thin for ice; it just hasn’t been cold enough for much to form.
By: Darrell Pendergrass, Superior Telegram
Over the holidays I’d planned on doing some ice fishing. I’d heard from some of the guys I run into at the Food Mart that the inland lakes were a little thin for ice; it just hasn’t been cold enough for much to form. However, it was also said that if an angler was careful and paid close attention to ice conditions he might be able to inch out far enough to make fishing worthwhile. Maybe. I was tempted.
And if those plans fell through – so to speak – I thought that I’d get to sit in my archery stand a short while. I know it’s crazy, but I’m still thinking that there might be a buck left to take this year. Maybe.
I’ve got a stand up, and I can see there’s a good amount of deer traffic in the area. I could do that. Sure, I could do that.
I began to hatch these plans because I had a few days off, and there wasn’t any reason to think that I wouldn’t get outside alone. The children would be playing with toys and games and gifts from Santa. My wife would gleefully be preparing meals for visitors and family. The dog would have a bone and I could toss some hay to the horses. Yes, of course I’d get outside. I could go unnoticed for a bit. Maybe.
Well, I did get outside. In fact, I was outside a lot more than I wanted. But instead of jigging my way toward a mess of crappies, or drawing back on an eight-point buck, I was anchored to the driveway by a snow-blower, a shovel and a Christmas snow storm that wouldn’t quit blowing. And the television kept announcing more snow was on the way. I cried myself to sleep each night.
Now, where I live to where you live is a good distance. How do I know this? Well, I live in Grand View, and aside from the few people who live in this zip code, there aren’t many others around. It’s a safe bet that most people who read this live a good amount of miles away. With that said, I want readers to know that in my town, and at my home, we got a solid 20 inches of snow. I believe most of you got less. (At this point I want to say that I’m willing to bet a dollar that my father-in-law will phone me and say he got 21 inches of snow. It’s always colder or hotter at his place, depending on the season.)
Now, doing the math and spreading 20 inches of snow out over four days it comes to only five inches at a time; which seems like a minimal amount. We live up north and that much snow shouldn’t be too hard to move. But as we know, you have to also factor in the wind, and the sleet and the rain, and demanding wives and visiting in-laws. So, the time it takes to move 20 inches of snow here might be different than elsewhere.
I will describe the snow that fell on my house, on my driveway, around my barns, on my road, and on my cars as cement snow. It cemented me right to the house.
As my dreams of getting into the outdoors went the way of warmer temperatures – meaning they died quietly – I stayed at the working end of my snow blower for hours on end. I should mention here that my snow blower is approaching 10 years of age. It’s rusted. It shuts off sometimes for no apparent reason. And, quite frankly, I’m pleasantly surprised each time it does decide to start. So, using this snow blower is sort of an adventure in itself – I wouldn’t want anyone to think I had it easy.
Anyhow, I moved a lot of snow over the holidays. From my frosted vantage point out near the garage, as ice clung to my beard and my frozen eyelashes stuck together, squinting through my chilled vision I could just make out Queenie and the kids inside our warm and inviting house. Jack had gotten some fly tying gear and was joyfully piecing together a Royal Coachman at the table. Grace dressed a new doll. The Boston terrier slumbered snuggly in its bed. Queenie smilingly sipped a glass of wine near the tree, its lights sparkling merrily with the greens and golds and reds of the season.
If I turned my head against the howling winds I could just make out the Christmas music from inside. But I turned just for a moment, as eardrums can actually freeze solid. I know.
I plowed on ahead; hoping I might fall into the snow blower and be chewed up and spit out into the snow bank. It would seem appropriate.
But I did spend Christmas outside.
Darrell Pendergrass of Grand View, is a Wisconsin Newspaper Association outdoor writing award winner and director of the Washburn Public Library. His articles have appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Milwaukee Journal. A collection of his stories appears in his new book, “Still Out There: A life afield,” is available for $18 at: Darrell Pendergrass, 52405 Otto Olson Road, Grand View, WI 54839.