John Wetrosky, Columnist
Beware my friends out there at Todd's Tavern in Amherst, South Dakota. They can break your hearts. I've hunted pheasants out near that burg and found it to be a Vikings stronghold. Every game is shown on the TV set above the bar and purple is the color of game days. This year the Minnesota Vikings are showing some promise of achieving the ultimate goal of any pro football team, winning the Super Bowl. Even more exciting is the fact that if they get that far, the event will be held at the new stadium in downtown Minneapolis. It's a long way from Amherst, South Dakota.
Everybody knows about the Grinch who stole Christmas. But, does anybody, other than my brothers and sisters, know about Clausey Sands? The distant and ill behaving relative of Santa Claus? The being that wore orange at Christmas time instead of red? The spirit who had mules pull his sleigh instead of reindeer? Well, my father knew of him and he told his story every year around this time of December.
Things have changed in Minnesota's deer hunting world since I came on the North Star State scene in 1970. Minnesota's deer season was once a nine-day season that carried it through Thanksgiving week. Two weekends of intense activity in the woods. Those who participated in those hunts speak of large family deer drives through the woods, taking any sex deer, blistering cold weather and wading through snowdrifts at times. There were many hunts that happened after a Thanksgiving Day dinner where the calories washed off like rainwater. That doesn't happen anymore.
I'm hoping that Amazon doesn't pick our community to build their multi-million dollar facility with 50,000 employees coming to town. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against Amazon. I've actually purchased a couple pair of denim jeans from the company that has one of the richest men in the world heading it up. The jeans came in the mail just a few days later and were exactly what I ordered. Some say it's the new way of doing business. But, I was thinking of what it would be like to live in my small, rural community if Amazon decided to make this its home.
I am not going to make any smart remarks about the annual tradition that permeates the air through the north country, that being our annual lutefisk dinner. I did a column many years ago, when I was young and dumb, making light of this fish dish from the fjords of the North Sea. Not having been reared in a Scandinavian rich environment, I really knew nothing about how important this dish was to the local residents.
Pheasant hunters may see more distance between roosters this fall. I just read the Pheasants Forever forecast for the upper Midwest and it ain't good. The Dakotas, Montana and Minnesota all experienced poor nesting, bad winter weather and drought this year. Not a good thing for the ringnecks. Road counts are down dramatically. It could be a tough season. But, hunters will still turn out. There will be non-resident licenses sold. Small-town cafes will glow with blaze orange, and dog whistles will be heard in the parking lots. Hope springs eternal in the hunter's breast.
I know how Max and King, if they were human, would have felt when they heard that they would soon be obsolete. Max and King were two old workhorses that remained on our farm in my early years. They had both been essential to the farm work that had been produced by my grandparents. Their broad backs and sturdy legs had been put to the plow, the mower and the wagon.
OK, OK, my Minnesota Twins forecast for this year is in the pits. I've heard about all the chiding I can stand. I'm a kind of person who admits it when he sees himself as wrong; and folks, I was wrong to make my dire prediction for the Twins season in April. So, kick me while I'm down!
The ruffed grouse season begins in Minnesota this coming weekend. Opening day got me to thinking of bird dogs I have known. Every one of them was a treasure while they escorted me through the woods. Every one but one.
It's not nice to trick older folks like me. I'm the beginning of the "baby boom" generation. They now have names for people of my age like the "silver tsunami" or the "silver streaks" or the "balding" generation. True, those words do pertain to me, but I've got lots of company. It doesn't seem so long ago that I could shoot the stem of a bull thistle in half with my .22 rifle from 25 yards away. My eyes were sharp and I could spot a rooster pheasant a quarter of a mile from the highway.