There was a time before dual fuel. A time before solar heating. A time before heat exchangers and ground water heating. It was called "the woods" time. Last week I was able to borrow my brother's portable wood splitter. As I unloaded this piece of equipment from my trailer, I was thinking of the year my wife and I built our house, 1978.
If you've grown up close to the soil as I have, you notice little things that lead you to believe the winter is really over. Oh, I know the old proverb up in the the upper Midwest, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch!" But that phrase rings hollow as the southerly winds waft in our faces and our driveways turn to mud and car wash cash registers ring. Speaking of driveways, some of us remember those days when we put saw horses at the end of our lane-ways to preserve our farmyards.
In about a week, I'm going to be dining on a dish that I wait for all year long. The repast has been thought of an ethnic dish, but hold on there pilgrim, it is not all you have been told it is. Yes, March 17 will see the green beer flowing from taps across the country. People dressed in garish green will parade down streets and across bridges with green water flowing in the river below. The lilt, "My Wild Irish Rose" will be sung in barrooms and drift out unto the streets of our fair cities.
You go from your house to your garage leaning into the wind with your ear-flappers pulled down. Your car battery barely provides enough "juice" to turn your pickup's starter. The road in front of you on your way to the coffee shop is full of hard-packed ice and you meet a snowplow that tosses salt into your radiator. It's that time of year. But, I say, cheer up, you upper Midwest landlubbers! I've got good news for you!
There weren't many "brew pubs" where I came from. The idea of brewing beer to make a living would have been foreign to us. We made our living from picking corn or harvesting wheat or combining oats. Things have changed. It seems today that the art of making beer has become a national phenomenon. Breweries are sprouting up where once people smashed whiskey stills with sledge hammers. There must be a new thought process in place. Now beer is being advertised not only for its social assets, but as a food supplement. Beer has always brought some people together.
We who live in the Northland feel a certain sympathy for our brothers and sisters in the Boston and New England area this winter. We know how it feels to experience a never-ending winter. We've been there. It's a good thing the pilgrims aren't landing on Plymouth Rock this winter. The winter we've experienced so far has paled in comparison to those winters most of the readers of this column remember.
Miss Goulasha was a flaming red head. She had big, brown eyes and she smelled good. She was my third-grade teacher and it was Valentine's week at my small community school. There was no doubt that I had a crush on this woman. She was everything a third-grade boy could want in a potential girlfriend. She had a soft voice, she moved like a swan, her touch was soft as velvet and she never lost her temper. I remember her wearing stylish dresses and high heels on most days. I was in love. But, so were just about all the boys in that third-grade class.
I don't care what anyone says, Groundhog Day is the real first official day of spring. Even though I know that up here on the northern tier a blizzard can be around any corner, when that furry rodent pokes his nubby little head out of his wintertime burrow, the wind becomes a little less severe, the snow suddenly starts to look beautiful and even though our sewers are frozen, we know that the bluebird sings somewhere. The whitewashed walls in our cow milking barn made note of this important occasion.
This past Saturday saw a mass of people clad in snowsuits, carrying buckets while striding confidently out to what is called the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake. It's a treat just to stand there and witness the various ways humans choose to challenge the northern Minnesota weather slipping across slick ice in pursuit of winning a new pickup. This year the crowd was greeted by global warming weather. Temps in the 30-above range saw some in the crowd relieving themselves of their coats and playing football in T-shirts.
If they'd had reality TV shows when I was growing up, I'd have made a million dollars. Well, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars; well, maybe they'd have paid me...