Paper routes, parkas and 5-buckle overshoesPublished 5:41pm Sunday, November 27, 2011
As another Thanksgiving Day disappears in the rear view mirror we need to pause and remember what we are thankful for. As a lover of the outdoors, I have always enjoyed watching wildlife and now I’ve even become a birdwatcher of sorts. I don’t mean that I’m the kind of person that actively seeks out birds but one that puts up a couple of feeders and hopes to catch a glimpse.
My backyard has plenty of wildlife in it if you are paying attention. We had a woodchuck that would wander through the yard from time to time and plenty of rabbits and squirrels. Now to me, squirrels have always been a nemesis and seem intent on destroying anything that is chewable. I solved the problem of them nesting in my shed in my backyard but they still seem to manage to spend plenty of time in my garage.
We have one squirrel that kind of reminds me of the Cheshire cat in “Alice in Wonderland.” The thing seems to be about as big as a woodchuck and so fat that I sometimes wonder how it can even climb a tree. I purchased a bird feeder a little over a week ago and put it up in the tree by our deck. I filled it, left for about an hour and when I came home the feeder was broken and laying on the ground with Woody, the squirrel feasting on the split feed. When the squirrel looked up and saw me it scurried away only to appear atop another tree chattering like it was taunting me. This just reaffirmed my feelings about those bushy-tailed, tree-climbing rats and also reminded me of some of the other things that they have destroyed.
I have my old boat parked in the backyard and a couple of years ago the squirrels chewed the end off the transducer wire for my depth finder. I had an old Eagle Silent 30 that still worked great but is useless now with no way to reattach the end. Even with these little episodes I still kind of like watching squirrels play as long as it’s in someone else’s yard.
We have had a pretty mild fall so far and hopefully a mild winter will follow. We do need the moisture and although moving snow is not on the top of my wish list it would really help the lakes and streams that are pretty low at this time.
When I was growing up on the north edge of town, I always looked forward to the first snowfall. There was always something exciting about it and a snowstorm always gave me a cozy feeling that was hard to describe. Maybe that feeling came from the fact that we had a small house and no matter how cold the temperature got it was always toasty warm in the house.
As a kid I had a paper route and I can remember walking through some pretty deep snow delivering that paper each night. Thursday night was collection night and on nights when it was snowy and blustery I’d be wearing the old 5-buckle overshoes, long johns and a parka. Walking through the dark night in a snowstorm was something I actually enjoyed. This was another time when I actually felt close to nature and got that “cozy” feeling when my head was tucked under the hood of that parka.
Snowstorms were also times when some of the customers would invite you inside to have a cup of hot cocoa but probably my favorite was when I’d go to Hills Steakhouse. I would always have to go to the back door on collection day. On more than one occasion Bob Hill, who was the owner, would order up some french fries and a bottle of Coke for the poor freezing paper boy who was braving the weather to do his job. Although the cold never seemed to bother me when I was out in it I can still remember the pain of trying to thaw out my feet and hands by the heat register at the end of the night. These are all good memories of simple times and good folks.
Just a reminder
Make sure the ice is a steady four inches thick before venturing out on it. Even if it looks safe it may not be and the last thing you want to become is a statistic. Remind your kids to stay off the ice until it is safe. I can remember how tempting it was to walk on thin ice when I was a kid but it usually ended badly; luckily the worst that ever happened to me was a wet pant leg or two which were soon turned into ice and sounded like two boards banging together when you walked.
The annual fund raising banquet for Southern Crossroads Chapter 54, Muskies, Inc., will be Dec. 7 at the Eagles Club in Owatonna. Social hour is 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m.. Our speaker will be Rob Kimm, musky writer for magazines, Outdoor News and others.
There will be raffles, a silent auction and door prizes throughout the night. Tickets are $20, kids 12 and under are free. It’s open to public, need not be a member to attend. Help improve musky fishing in southern Minnesota.
Until next time, stay safe, keep off the ice and take a little time to enjoy the outdoors around you.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the coming year. They are the reason we are able to enjoy all the great freedoms that we have today.
Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.