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The Last Windrow: The (fun) time to open seasonal resorts has arrived

April was the month when Ma and Pa geared up for the new season by getting their respective resorts ready for the new season.

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Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Minnesota is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." Going into a new resort season, I'm wanting to put a new slogan on Minnesota license plates: "Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Hose Clamps!"

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Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Let me explain.

Small Ma and Pa resorts are fast disappearing from the Minnesota landscape. You know, the resorts where a friendly couple invites travelers to spend some time beside the lake and catch a fish or two. These small resorts once peppered the landscape in the North Star State.

April was the month when Ma and Pa geared up for the new season by getting their respective resorts ready for the new season. That opening-the-resort time is rapidly approaching as the frost leaves the earth.

My parents' resort was no different. It was located on a large lake, Pelican, in the Brainerd area of Minnesota. They sold their farm in Iowa when both their backs started giving them problems and running a resort seemed a good place to make an investment.

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They called it Hawkeye Resort with the thought of taking a little bit of Iowa along with them. The resort has since been sold, but still remains what it was called in the day - a modern housekeeping resort. That meant that renters cleaned the cabin themselves and brought their own towels.

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Farmers are renowned for not wanting to pay much to others for servicing their farms or equipment. Whatever can be done on the farm in regard to repairs is done on the farm.

In my years of growing up on our small farm, I rarely remember ever taking a piece of equipment to a dealer for service. My dad did most of the fixing himself unless the fix required more expertise. That ability to fix stuff came in handy, and it was no different on the resort he and my mother purchased.

Each April of their 30-year resort career, a decree came forth to "open the resort." That meant the cabin windows were opened, curtains were hung, sinks and refrigerators were cleaned, floors were mopped, sometimes painting was done, tree branches were pulled off the roofs, and lawns and shorelines were raked. Boats were painted, motors were tuned up, docks were installed and beach chairs were dragged out of storage.

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Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

Preparing for the new warm weather season was a full-time job.

One of the more exciting events that occurred during resort opening was that of "turning on the water." Water lines were not buried deeply at most small resorts. They were drained in the fall and started up again when the frost left the soil.

So it was at Hawkeye Resort. I usually took part in that activity.

My dad would flip the water pump breaker and direct me to explore the resort grounds for leaks. Leaks occurred every year. As I strolled the grounds I would witness geysers sprouting into the air. Some resembled only seepage and then there were those that resembled miniature versions of Old Faithful.

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Never in the 30 years my parents owned Hawkeye Resort was there a year without water leaks. That's where my opening reference to hose clamps comes into play.

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Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

If my dad fixed one he fixed a thousand leaks with his mastery of using hose clamps. The record number of hose clamps in one location was 10, as I remember. There were cans full of hose clamps of various sizes stored in the garage, and all came to be used not only to splice water lines but for a multitude of uses.

The silver clamps were also used to stabilize fractured outboard motor handles, splice broken wheelbarrow handles, fasten bird feeders to a branch, fix bicycle handlebars, stop electric wires from dangling from the ceiling, tighten shower heads, hold a fishing rod handle together, keep a young tree stabilized to a stake, fasten a flower pot to a fence and splice a broken boat oar.

Hawkeye Resort virtually glistened with the silver gleam of hose clamps.

John Wetrosky
John Wetrosky (2022)

Ma and Pa resorts and others will be "turning on the water" soon. Owners will no doubt thrill to the sight of geysers large and small sprouting from their lawns. Hose clamps will be put into use. It is as it should be.

Resort opening season is here. "Minnesota! Land of 10,000 Hose Clamps!" That slogan has a nice ring to it!

See you next time. Okay?

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