John Wetrosky, Columnist
During this "spring of our discontent," I was thinking of anything possible to get me out of the dumps. Then the wild turkeys appeared below our birdfeeders. They scratched, clawed, picked at each other and chased each other around the birdfeeders. Our community of red and gray squirrels took to the treetops, and the chickadees fled to the budless lilac bushes while the big birds gobbled up whatever sunflower seeds were left on the ground. My wife's rock flower garden took a beating.
I hear the groaning out there. "When will it ever be over?" people ask. Winter does not want to leave, but I have good news. Winter will go; it has no choice! I was digging out my fishing tackle box the other day inside our garage where the floor is still covered with ice and salt and grit and grime. As I was digging under the seats in search of my aged tackle box I chanced to glance up through the garage window to see heavy snowflakes drifting to earth in volume.
Before you accuse me of missing the date on making my 2018 Minnesota Twins season record, let me explain why I waited until the week after the season started to make my "never-miss" forecast.
Two giant shadows crossed in front of me as I hiked down a half frozen trail last week. At first I thought the shadows might have been caused by some high flying jets, but no. They were the shadows of two newly arrived sandhill cranes, swooping back to their northern nesting area. Spring brings them every year now. Things have changed among the woods and open lands since 1978, when my wife and I built our house on the edge of the trees.
I would never have believed if you had told me as I was piloting that WD Allis Chalmers tractor down green rows of young Iowa corn plants that I would at this point in my life be acting as a executive director of a small-town chamber of commerce. No way, I would have said. That thought wasn't ever close to being inside my head. But here I am - a long way from that steel tractor seat.
"Watch! It dips, it dives, it sits on its head! Look at it float motionless and then dart for the surface. Watch it make a somersault! Step right up, you can have one for just $15!" So went the chant from the man standing beside the water-filled cattle tank at the sport show many years ago. He called himself the "Rat Man." I wrote about him a number of years ago, but his memory stuck.
Does a live oak log weigh more at my age of 71 than it did at my age of 30? Yes, it does. My dear wife attended a sustainable living vendor show a couple of weeks ago and brought home a package of shiitake mushroom cores. I had no idea these things existed, but they were lying in their package next to the coffee maker one morning a couple of weeks ago making me wonder what she was up to. They were a subtle hint of things to come.
The old rifle sits in the corner of our house. It's a Remington Score Master model and was purchased by my dad sometime after World War II. The rifle has history written all over it. It's probably not considered appropriate by some to write about firearms these days. There have been abuses and tragedies caused by firearms in the hands of those who should not have them in their hands and that is very sad.
There are secret places we have all gone. Places that are not on a Google map. I'm thinking of the secret places that I have gone to at different spaces in my life. Places where a person could think about things. Do some self introspection. Plan out a possible future. Feel good about where they were at the time. Such places were not mentioned to those I knew at the time, but I knew those places were there and I stopped by whenever I could.
My granddad rolled the dice in 1928. He bought $1,000 worth of stock in a tire company. He lost it all when the market crashed in 1929. He never forgot it. In 1928, 1,000 bucks was a bit of money I'd think. Through that experience he always tried to impress on me the risk involved in the stock market. "The only stock I have in the market now are those four-legged critters strolling around the barnyard," he would tell me. At the age of 10, I wasn't sure what he was talking about.