Dick Herfindahl: Nothing says fun like wet feet, crunchy pants

Published 9:17 pm Friday, January 24, 2020

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


The way the weather has been this past week reminds me of my days as a youth. I grew up north of town, just a few houses past the slough that you pass on your way north on the west side of Bridge Avenue. I don’t really know the date or year that road was officially named Bridge Avenue, but we actually called it Bridge Street as far back as I can recall.

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The snowfall we have been experiencing the last few days is what I would refer to as annoying more than hard work. Shovel, it snows again, shovel again, it snows again, shovel again and on and on it seems to be going. I don’t like to spend too much time whining about the weather because it is the one thing that we (man) have, thankfully, not been able to control. With that being said, I will say that I have gotten my whine in for the year and have moved on.

I have written many times about time spent as a youth roaming the slough by Bridge Avenue in search of adventure. I will always love to revisit those days, probably because it brings me back to the memories of my youth and the days I felt that the whole outdoors world was mine to explore.

The memories of those days when I would walk through the slough on a wintery morning and the only sound you could hear was the one of your overshoes crunching through the crust of the snow. If I were to venture a guess, I’d have to say that must be the reason that when I walk in the snow today and it makes that crunching sound, it gives me a good feeling.

You always knew it was a good day when, after roaming the slough for some time, you still had dry feet and the legs on your pants were still flexible and not making a “clacking” sound when you walked. As a kid it was your job to stay outside as long as you could without being wet or cold. One thing I learned from my winter exploring experiences in the slough was that you never wanted to step on or near slough grass. The ice around slough grass was usually honey-combed and would not support much weight. I always seemed to want to push the envelope when it came to making things just a little more adventurous, especially when it could be easily avoided. What was the fun of not testing the waters, so-to-speak, when it came to the slough?

There was nothing worse than breaking through the ice and having water go inside your 5-buckle overshoe. Not only did it result in a wet and cold foot, but it could give you frost-bite and it did bring a fairly sudden end to the day of exploring and fun. If you were smart enough to head home it was welcomed by the rest of the kids, but none of us really wanted to be the first to buckle and head for the warmth of home. You could pretty much tell when it was time because we would all be shivering and shuffling from one foot to the other and once the topic of calling it a day came up there was no arguing. You could only have so much fun when you were cold.

DNR wants input on 2019 deer populations and observations

The DNR is seeking public input on deer populations and observations from 2019, including experiences hunters had during the deer hunting season, issues related to deer damage, or other deer-related issues. The DNR will use the feedback to shape regulations for the 2020 hunting season. The survey, which is open through Sunday, Feb. 16, and further details are on the DNR website.

Lots of demand for grants that help get kids outdoors 

Schools, nonprofit organizations and public entities continue to show strong demand for resources to get more children outdoors. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had another overwhelming response to the No Child Left Inside grant program, with more than 200 applications to the second phase of the program the Minnesota Legislature authorized in 2019. The DNR hopes to announce Phase 2 award winners by April 1. Meanwhile, 59 recipients for Phase 1 funding are posted on the DNR website and include projects aimed at getting kids snowshoeing, shooting, playing in nature, fishing, exploring, cross country skiing, canoeing, birding, biking and more.

Until next time, I encourage everyone to keep area police officer Arik Matson, who was shot and critically injured, in your thoughts and prayers. It sounds like he is making progress in his recovery, but still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Please take a few moments to also 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.