John Wetrosky, Columnist
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.
Someone must have told the sumac behind our house that fall is on the way. Two leaves dangling from this north country shrub have turned a brilliant red, contrasting harshly against the still green canopy. This sumac is telling us something.
It stands as the last monument to a farm family gone from the land. In the middle of the farmyard, on a slight hill, just above the now gone barn and next to where a windmill used to stand. It's rusted and bent and worn, but it is a testament to the fact that a family once lived here, played here, had kids here and maybe even died here. It is the farm's water pump, the center of the universe of the small family farm.
I just took the last of my 2015 Christmas lights down. Let's see, is it getting to be late August already? A lady who passed by while I was dangling precariously off the step ladder mentioned that I might have well just left the lights up; but no, it was my goal in May to take them down and I've fulfilled that goal. I feel better. There are a number of undone tasks around our home that started with good intentions this past spring, but have somehow floundered as the calendar pages flipped by. Stuff just gets in the way.
The largest fish I ever yanked out of a pond of water during my farm years was a 6-pound channel catfish. It came flipping out of the Big Sioux River on a sultry, hot August day. I remember that fish well. It bit on a piece of shrimp that I dropped into a pocket of water surrounded by huge cottonwood tree roots.
Storms I have known. We have had some lately. During my illustrious and dubious career as a fishing guide and fisherman, I've come to respect Mother Nature in her rawest form - storms. Those who are foolhardy enough to ignore her signals are asking for a pounding. I learned that after fishing northern Minnesota waters for nearly 40 years.