Wet spring hurts farming and tourism

Published 2:14pm Sunday, June 16, 2013

The one thing that a person can count on with all of the wet weather that we have been experiencing this spring is that we will see plenty of our Minnesota state bird: the mosquito. This past week, my wife Jean and I headed north to the cabin for a few days. Our grandson, Dylan, and his friend, Liam, went with us. Our granddaughter, Emma, also went along on her first extended trip without Mom and Dad, which went about as I had expected for a 4-year-old. She got a little homesick from time to time but was a real little trooper.

The week started out wet and cold but soon gave way to warm and sunny weather. Through it all the one thing that was constant was the overabundance of mosquitoes. This is probably one of the worst seasons that I can remember for those pesky little blood suckers. I do know that if the fish had been biting as good as those little bugs we would have been arm weary from reeling them all in.

Mosquitoes or not, it was great spending time at the cabin with our grandkids. Dylan took Emma and grandma fishing on our little lake, and I think she enjoyed being in the boat more than fishing. Emma loves being outdoors, and I can see her being a future fisherman. I had bought some leeches for our trip to a nearby lake, and she wanted to see them. Of course, just seeing them wasn’t enough for her she had to touch them. Now I know a lot of adults who refuse to touch a leech, but not Emma. The next morning I had to get them out of the cooler and take one out so she could touch it. I definitely see a future fisherman in the family. Later that day, she found an earthworm and was playing with it like it was a hamster or something; it’s obvious that she has no fear of creepy crawly things.

Spending any time at all in the North Woods with the grandkids is always a plus and not even those pesky mosquitoes could put a damper on that. We did get to do some fishing and got to enjoy nature and the outdoors. The boys and I got to fish on a few different lakes this week with mixed results. The lakes seem to be at least two weeks behind in vegetation, because you still see brown dead pencil reeds where the new ones should be growing and lily-pads are just barely starting to appear. This all translated into different fishing patterns than past years. I spoke with a guy at the local store and tackle shop in Talmoon who told me that the same lake that he had fished successfully for walleyes a year ago at this time produced nothing this year. He asked where I was from, and when I told him, he asked if I knew Chuck Jean because it seems that he and Chuck Jean wrestled together while in the Army. I guess it really is a small world.

I really do think that the late, wet spring has affected the northern part of the state a little differently than the southern part of the state. I believe that the same weather patterns that hurt the farming in the southern part of the state had to have hurt tourism in northern Minnesota.

My personal observation is that it seems to be getting harder and harder for the small businesses in Northern Minnesota to make it. You just don’t see the people out and about like you once did when going up north was how folks spent their vacations. Years ago, folks used to take vacations a week at a time and would usually set aside a week or two for going up north. These days most folks can take their vacation a day or two at a time which, along with increasing costs made it more tempting to skip a week-long vacation and stay closer to home. It’s kind of sad to see the family resorts disappearing and being sold off in parcels.

I guess it’s all about change and a different lifestyle than what we were once accustomed to. Today’s fast-paced lifestyle leaves little time for a person to stop and look around at all of the wonderful things the outdoors has to offer.

Looking back at the times that I would go up north and stay in a cabin, it seems like you always packed enough food for more than a week. Going up north also meant packing plenty of clothes for all types of weather. Of course, the old Johnson outboard motor and gas can was packed into the trunk, which seemed to hold an endless amount of necessities. The crack of dawn seemed to be the normal time to head out on the trip that was months in the planning stages. The times seemed to be simpler back then, but maybe that was because there were not as many entertainment options like there are today.

It may not be possible to turn back the clock, but I try to do it at least a couple of times a year. Give it a try sometime, and you may find out how much fun a family vacation up north can really be. Camping at a national forest or state park campground can be a fun and inexpensive experience for a family.

Until next time; get out and enjoy some fishing in one of our many lakes and streams of the area.

Please remember our service men and women who serve our country so that we may enjoy the many freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears in the Tribune each Sunday.