Spring is always better with a little sunshine

Published 12:55 am Friday, March 19, 2010

Although the weather has been mild and spring is now upon us the fog and clouds that we have been living under seem to put a little damper on the spirit of things. With the mild weather and the rapidly melting snow the water in the channel this past Monday was as high as I can remember in recent years. Whenever the water on Front Street is up to the railroad bridge that runs behind the old Wilson plant you know it’s high. Although

Main Street has been under water the past few days we can still consider ourselves lucky compared to some other areas where flooding is taking place.

One day, as I went for a walk in the neighborhood, I got that same feeling that I used to get as a kid when spring was finally here. The snow was melting and the sidewalks and streets were still dirty with the leftovers of winter but there was that feeling that a good spring rain would clean everything up and we’d be on our way to grass and flowers. I know — it’s still March and this is Minnesota so we aren’t really out of the woods until the fat Robin chirps.

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I look back to my days as a kid growing up on the north side of town and recall spring as an exciting time. Back then we couldn’t envision any of today’s electronics unless of course you were watching the old Flash Gordon serials. With a lack of X-Boxes, PlayStations or iPods to occupy our time we had to make our own fun. Our house on Bridge Avenue sat up higher than the road so a spring melt meant that there would be a gully formed alongside our gravel street running towards the ditch on Bridge Avenue.

Spring thaw was a time when I’d make small boats out of wood scraps to sail along the stream until they reached the ditch. If they made it to the ditch they’d get swept up in the current and be sent sailing towards the “crick” which was a pretty neat accomplishment. If they went into the culvert and got hung up there was no way to get the boat out unless you went in there.

Now of all the things we kids did that would be deemed dangerous by our moms, that was one thing we didn’t do. I can’t really believe we actually had enough sense to stay out of those culverts until the water went down!

Maybe coming home wet and facing the wardens (moms) was enough of a deterrent to keep us out of there or maybe we were just sharp enough to realize that it could be pretty dangerous.

When the first thaw occurred the water would flow swiftly through the ditches and I can remember a few times where the water was higher than the culvert and almost to the roads edge on Bridge. To a kid who was always looking for adventure this was pretty exciting and the one thing you could bet on in the spring was wet feet and wet pant legs. I guess I always had a way of finding water that would be deep enough to go over my 5-buckle overshoes and pretty much soak my pants to the knees. Those overshoes were great at keeping your feet dry but they could also hold a lot of water if you tried hard enough.

I can remember walking in the water in the ditch and trying to see how far

I could go without the water going over the top of the overshoe. This was like a personal challenge but there was usually a flaw in this plan. If you got too close to the top of the overshoe you would sometimes forget that you were not on a level playing field and when one foot would go too far, panic usually set in and sure enough there would go the other one.

Once the damage was done I would see no reason to hurry home (prolonging the inevitable) to face the music. I probably got a good scolding every time it happened but in a way I don’t think my mother expected anything less from a kid who loved playing outdoors.

When we made those boats and set them sailing the ultimate goal was for them to indeed reach the “crick” where we’d watch them sail away through the slough to another adventure. I can remember running alongside the road as my boat sailed into the main stream and headed rapidly toward its destination. If I was lucky, my boat would make it to the slough and I would feel some sort of accomplishment. If it did get hung up, I felt obligated to try my best to free it. This usually meant going into the water at least a little bit. If I succeeded in freeing the boat I would finally head for home with my shoes making that slurping sound inside my water filled overshoes with my pants joining in by making that noise they make when you walk with waterlogged pant legs.

One thing we have to remind our kids of this time of year is that a fast current needs to be respected and whether it’s in a small stream or a larger one a strong current can easily pull you in. There are many flooded ditches around the county and if you’re driving and go off the road it can be dangerous.

Last week I wrote about the Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club and the many good things they do each year. It was mentioned that you could go to their Web site for any information about upcoming events. Their Web site is: www.fountainlakesportsmensclub.org

Until next time, play safe and always take a little time to enjoy our great Minnesota outdoors.

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers throughout the year.