John Wetrosky, Columnist
This will be my 70th Thanksgiving. I don't remember much about the first three or four, but history comes alive after that. Those early Thanksgivings were simpler events. Usually they encompassed a short journey to a relative's house where all the cousins, aunts and uncles met to share a meal large enough to suit a company of soldiers.
Do they sell blaze orange flip flops, tank tops and sunscreen in blaze orange colored bottles? If so, they would have been in vogue during the opening weekend of the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season. A hardy deer hunter required a good dose of sunscreen on the nose after spending a Nov. 5 and 6 afternoon in a deer stand with a southerly exposure. Deer hunters clad in their normal Woollys were seen sweating as they trudged back to the noon campfires. The woods were littered with castoff heavy clothing.
The trek is about to begin. I can hear the brush cracking, gates creaking, pickups thumping through the early November darkness, headlights bobbing as the vehicles find a hidden rock in the road. Minnesota's whitetail deer season is at our doorstep. I carved the date of my first Minnesota deer hunting foray into our present hunting ground in the bark of a mature oak tree that held my hand-hewn stand. The date was 1975. I had hunted deer in Minnesota before, but not in the woods that surround my stand today.
Turning the corner to the ripe age of 70 brings one eye to eye with one's own mortality. No longer can one think he can outlive almost anything. The clock is ticking. The sun comes up every day. Time passes. Funny how I don't remember getting to the age when one must start to think of things like IRA spend-downs, Ibruprofen dosage, handrails near the steps and not straining something merely by bending over to pick up a stray nail in the driveway.
Some many years ago I wrote a column about an old trapper. I knew this gentleman personally, but I purposely didn't use his name because I wanted him to be a kind of representative of all of his ilk. His breed was fast disappearing, and although there are still those who practice the art of trapping, in my opinion it is a diminishing number. I enjoyed hearing from a reader of that column who lived in Florida at the time. She wrote me the question, "Was that my dad you wrote about?" It was, and I told her that.
The big, black Lab pushed her wet nose into the small clump of foxtail grass. There was no other clump of grass to be seen anywhere in the vicinity. How could a rooster pheasant be there? I almost called the dog back to continue our journey across the Dakota landscape, but instead I wandered over to where the dog stood rigid and motionless with only the tip of her tail moving nervously.
They raise hemp in Quebec. I saw it. I could not allow our trip to Nova Scotia to go without a little agricultural rambling. After all, this column is called "The Last Windrow," and if that isn't ag related, then I don't know what is. Traveling through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and across the broad north country of Canada, we saw lots of people raising lots of crops and livestock. The fields for the most part didn't resemble the sections of soybeans and corn that we see here in Minnesota or in my birth state of Iowa, but crops nonetheless. Just different.
It's a long way from Hinton, Iowa, to Prince Edward Island. I had heard of this faraway place first from a school librarian who encouraged our class to read the "Anne of Green Gables" books. Somehow the title didn't resonate with me and instead I chose to read books like "Big Red" by Jim Kjelgaard or "Old Yeller" by Fred Gipson or other books that dealt with more Midwest outdoor settings. A place like Prince Edward Island seemed a bit foggy and far away.
Well, as the Gipper would say, the sky has fallen on the 2016 Minnesota Twins. Some of you may remember that I made my yearly Minnesota Twins baseball forecast way back in April. I waited until spring training was over, and I checked with my sources who live down in Fort Myers in the wintertime. They gave glowing reports. I read a multitude of baseball magazines, and looked into my own personal crystal ball. I did my due diligence. I really did.
Politics are funny business. My columns over the years have not taken political sides mainly because I believe, right or wrong, that my readers have enough of this gibberish on their plates already. The media is full of politics on an election year, and that's probably enough. But, this year's interesting races brought me back to the first time I was eligible to cast a presidential ballot. The year I turned 21 was 1967, and 1968 was a presidential year. Minnesota's political powerhouse, Hubert H. Humphrey, was in a struggle with incumbent Richard Nixon.