The Last Windrow: Where's the snow? It's time to bring on our Minnesota winter
This columnist is ready to fire up his 1980 Polaris snowmobile, after fixing it, but needs snow.
"With my nose pointed upward toward the sky,
"Hoping to see a snowflake pass by.
"But no flake comes drifting down,
"And brown leaves instead of snow cover the ground. Bummer!"
This year's December has become the season of my discontent.
No, I'm not talking about the election or the virus. I'm talking about the snowmobile and winter sports season.
December is supposed to be the month where ice and snow invade the Northland and we who choose to live here through the winter months and love to see the landscape covered with the white stuff and hear the winter storm warnings on the radio.
But no, this year we are greeted with temps in the 40s and green grass is still showing on our lawns. That reality for snow lovers is no reason to rejoice.
I've got my 1980 Polaris snowmobile parked in the back of our house. I say "parked" because even with snow I couldn't use it. The sled has refused to start. The sled was running like a top last spring when I stored it in our garage, but when I went to start it this fall, not a pop from the engine.
I'm not much of a mechanic but I know enough to be dangerous, and in an attempt to find out what was wrong I took off the air filter, which leads to the carburetors. When I removed the air filter, two handfuls of acorns poured forth and sponge rubber came out in bits and pieces.
Evidently the machine had been invaded by chipmunks over the summer months, and I found they had stored their winter larder there along with chewing through the fuel line.
I and that snowmobile go back a long way. I purchased it new in 1980 from a friend who was going out of business and begged me to lower his inventory. His timing was right because I had just left a 1972 model snowmobile on the shores of a Canadian lake after blowing the engine on my way to a winter lake trout fishing excursion.
We pulled the dead sled over to the shoreline with the intent of pulling it out of the bush on our way back. We had a great fishing trip, even though I had to hitch a ride on one of my fishing pal's sleds, but when we came back out of the wilderness we found my defunct sled gone. Someone must have seen some value in it and it was never seen again.
The Canadian police asked me if I wanted it returned if they found it. I told them no, I was donating it to the Queen.
So, I purchased the new sled from my friend and all was well for a number of years until a few weeks ago when I went to start it and found no life. I think I've gotten all of the acorns out of the engine, and with a new fuel line I should hear the old sled purr to life again soon.
But, snow will be needed.
Not only are the snowmobilers eagerly looking out their bedroom windows in the morning for snow, but cross-country skiers, ice skaters, hockey players, snowshoe enthusiasts and snow boarders are wondering when the first detectable white stuff will fall. The forecasts I've seen state it will be sometime near Christmas before winter lovers will see anything resembling a snowflake.
One of the reasons I moved to northern Minnesota was to get into the snow belt. Iowa's snows were unpredictable at best. Some years our farmyard was packed with snow and many years we saw bare ground. One of my uncles told me I was crazy to move north and couldn't understand why anyone would choose to be cold and fight snow.
He just didn't understand me, I guess.
I'll be hoping to get my 1980 "classic" snowmobile going before the first measurable snow flies in these parts. My snow shovel sits rusting outside our kitchen door and I've got a bag of grit sitting beside the slippery step into our garage. And the acorns are now removed from my snowmobile engine.
I'm ready. Bring it on. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas.
See you next time. Okay? Stay safe!