Late summer weather is unpredictable

Published 2:31 pm Saturday, August 31, 2013

Column: Woods and Water, by Dick Herfindahl

Just when I think that I have things pretty much figured out weather-wise, old Mother Nature throws a wrench into it and brings me back to reality. If there’s one thing that’s predictable, it’s the fact that we still can’t control the weather. Being a life-long Minnesotan, I learned that with every streak of near-perfect weather we receive, there is inevitably a payback. With that being said, we can only hope for more seasonal weather in September.

I am once again writing my column from our cabin in the north woods while being entertained by a herd of chipmunks that seem to have taken over the bird feeders. I have always enjoyed watching the little critters, but one or two is enough. I do hope these mischievous little rodents haven’t started thinking this is home.

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On my drive up to the cabin, I decided to take a side trip and check out the access on Spider Lake. A couple of years ago, the water was so low I could barely launch my boat. So I thought it was a good idea to make sure that it was OK for launching.

After I left the access, I passed by the road leading to the resort that we vacationed at for many years. I had already driven past it, but on a whim I decided to turn around and go back to see what had changed. When I drove in, I noticed the deck was enclosed and had now become a porch, and the area where we used to camp was all permanent sites now. After meeting the owner, I told him that we vacationed at this resort for many years right up until we got our own place. He said, “You must be taking a little trip down memory lane.” He also said I could walk around and check the place out if I wanted.

Looking around the resort brought back a lot of good memories. The campground was always busy, and where else could you camp for eight bucks a night and for another buck with electricity? Those were good times, and the owners were folks I came to know and consider friends. It was owned by Bid and Ginny Gramke with their daughter Lynn and son-in-law and Dave Rauck. The thing that impressed me the most was how they treated folks, because it didn’t matter whether you were staying in their finest cabin or sleeping in a tent — they treated you the same.

Bid was pretty much the focal point of all the guests. Everyone enjoyed talking to him. He had a gift of gab and was always more than willing to spin a tale or two. He was a retired Cincinnati, Ohio, policeman who had been vacationing at Spider Lake for many years before buying the place. Eventually he sold his half of the business to his daughter and son-in-law, and he and Ginny moved to her home state of Alabama.

He happened to be there on one of my last vacations there, so we sat and talked for a while. I told him he had a knack for making me want to fish. I can remember one particular August vacation when the fishing wasn’t the best, and after spending a few fruitless hours on the lake, I was feeling a little frustrated. When Bid asked me how fishing was, I told him it was pretty tough. He then proceeded to talk about catching fish in August. The next thing I knew, I wanted to hit the lake as soon as possible with a renewed enthusiasm.

On that last visit with him, I had to tell him that nobody could get me excited about fishing like he did, but I also told him that I always knew that most of what he was telling me was nonsense. We both had a good laugh over that one, and then he told me he always remembered me for being able to catch fish when nobody else was catching them. I suspected that he might have been at it again, but I took the compliment anyway.

Yes, I am glad I made that little side trip to Spider Shores Resort even though there is a new owner. Things have changed, but in many ways it still looked pretty much the same. I can still see the daily volleyball game that they played in the driveway and hear the kids screaming excitedly when a skunk would show up in their hide-and-seek hiding place.

I don’t ever remember seeing so many skunks in one place; they were like cats and as you sat around the campfire at night. One could suddenly appear under your chair looking for scraps of food. I can remember one Saturday morning as people were checking out I spotted two or three skunks standing under the deck watching people leave. I can’t believe that no one ever was sprayed or bitten.

Yes, those were good times spent with good folks, and now I have rekindled those good memories to enjoy once again.

Until next time, stop and take a little time to enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers, because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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