Dick Herfindahl: ’Tis the season for family and friends

Published 8:52 pm Friday, December 27, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


Another Christmas has passed and I have to say that it was a very special time spent with family. This time of year is a season for family and friends, of giving and receiving gifts and most of all remembering the reason that we celebrate in the first place.

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As we move into the new year I am excited to move towards spring when I am anticipating heading north once again. I would love to be at the cabin in early spring or maybe even winter if that is at all possible. To me, planning a winter trip to the cabin is almost an impossible undertaking due to the road leading to the cabin not being plowed in the winter.

I do plan on taking some extended time at the cabin this summer to relax and also to do a few things that I have been putting off. I have never been there in the dead of winter so late fall and early April have had to suffice. I would love to be spending a few nights sitting in the easy chair with the wood stove blazing making the cabin warm and cozy while the wind howls outside, all the while blowing the falling snow about.

Getting back to reality, I would not be disappointed if the weather held, like it is now, for the duration of the winter. The winter weather has brought out the kid in my grandsons once again. Grant, my youngest grandson, is home from college so he is pushing his brothers to get out and play. This past week they were playing hockey at the park and sledding on the hill off of Frank Hall. These are the things that I can only be a spectator of these days but that, in itself, is fun to me. The thing that started to give me a sign that old age was creeping up on me was sledding.  It seemed like the trip down the hill, while fun, kept getting shorter while trudging up the hill seemed to be getting longer and more difficult each time.

When thinking back to my days as a youth I can remember, fondly, how we would walk long distances in the winter just to find the right hill for sledding. We had once built a sledding track that would probably have served as a bobsled run but it was short-lived after too many injuries were incurred by us kids on that icy track. The neighborhood moms finally put a stop to it and made us destroy the track before more stitches were needed.

I always looked at the task of dragging the old Radio Flyer sled behind me as I ventured out in search of the perfect hill as an adventure. In those times there were actual, if not fictional, heroes that kids looked up to and when we played we would choose to be one of those many hero’s. We would always want to be one of the “good guys” and there were plenty of them to go around. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Hop-along Cassidy (Hoppy). Sgt. Preston of the Yukon and his faithful dog “King” were my favorites so I always chose to be Sgt. Preston as we trudged through the slough in search of the perfect hill with a little imaginary adventure thrown in along the way. 

As a kid, I did have a pretty vivid imagination and the funny thing was; most of my friends followed along, played the game and fit right in. A kid with an imagination can have a whole world open up to him or her. They have plenty of time to be adults so letting them be kids gives them a great opportunity to be creative. In a way, today’s kids don’t really have that opportunity to use their imagination. There are no longer any heroes wearing white hats and chasing the bad guys. The electronic world that we are all so involved in can be good, but too much of a good thing can sometimes take away the little things that make us unique as individuals.

I know that I have written almost every year about sledding in the old neighborhood or investigating the nearby slough in both winter and summer. I guess the reason that I like to re-visit those days is because these are fond memories which were influenced by, our then, heroes but the adventures that we had were very real and they were ours. They were our adventures and in our pretend adventures we were the heroes but we never ventured too far away from reality. The heroes were just names or figureheads but the actors (us kids) were real and the fun that we had with that was irreplaceable.

The “good old days” were not always what we are referring to by today’s standards. We made our own fun by physically doing things like sledding, building snow forts and having snowball fights in the winter and building race carts in the summer. In the evening we would play “tag”, hide and seek, kick the can, Simon says and anti-eye-over, just to name a few. Yes, those were the “good old days” of the 50’s and 60’s and the simple, fun games that we played then are no longer being played today.

They say that change is inevitable but some things that change are not always for the best. Yes, now they are just good memories of fun times enjoyed many years in the past just to be remembered fondly by the older generation.

Please take some time, not only during the holiday season but all year long, to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Also, take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have served and those troops serving today.