From The Desk of the Old Timer

by Bob Cary

The Wimp Factor<BR><BR>Amazing how a cold snap hits after several warm winter weeks and some folks get thrown into a panic. Then, after a few days of subzero temperature, nobody pays much attention.<BR><BR>Friday, Jan. 14, the school was closed. A lot of us could not remember when the Ely school was closed except for holidays. Other schools close. The ones farther south close first, like around Duluth, Proctor and Superior. <BR><BR>You can understand the Duluth School system. By closing Friday and with Martin Luther King Day on Monday, the schools got a four-day weekend. But up here? They don’t usually close the schools on account of weather or even for St. Urho’s Day. Who’s St. Urho? Anybody not familiar with him must be a newcomer.<BR><BR>Anyone who wishes to go back and check on past weather, Global Warming notwithstanding, will find that Ely has experienced weeks at a time when the temperature didn’t get warmer than 20 below zero. Not much shut down. People went about their business. Kids went to school, Snowmobilers roared over the trails. Skiers skied. That was before somebody invented Wind Chill. Nobody used to know what that was, so it didn’t bother anybody.<BR><BR>But now we have the Wimp Factor along with Wind Chill. Not only did the Duluth Schools shut down on Friday, but the Spirit Mountain Ski Area shut down. That must be somewhat of an historical occasion. When a ski area closes because of winter, it has to be some sort of a benchmark. <BR><BR>And it just wasn’t that cold. It was simply the first blast of weather that got progressively colder. By Martin Luther King Day the temperature had descended past 30 below, but by then everybody was getting pretty well used to it. <BR><BR>There were a good number of skiers at Hidden Valley over the weekend although the scheduled ski races were called off. World Class groomer Fred Rayman was tooling up and down the trails, smoothing out the skating area, setting track for classic skiers. Somebody went skijoring with their dogs on the Trezona Trail and wiped out the track, temporarily eliminating that for recreational skiing.<BR><BR>Saturday, when the winter trout season opened in lakes outside the Canoe Wilderness, fishermen were out, but not exactly in force. A handful appeared on Miners Lake in town, a few on Tofte Lake, a few on Snowbank and Burntside lakes. Smitty’s on Snowbank had several trout brought in - a couple of six-pounds, plus some eelpout. <BR><BR>Anglers on Tofte and Miners lakes reported some nice rainbow trout. There were not many anglers walking around. Most of them were in portable shelters. <BR><BR>Dennis Schmidt on Snowbank said his staff was busy just getting fishermen’s cars started. Then there were a number of fisherfolk who stayed in Sunday to watch the Viking’s game although they would have probably been better off fishing.<BR><BR>In our yard, the field mice discovered the corn in the deer feeder and created a trail of tiny footprints to the source of free lunch. A fisher left tracks in the snow, passing through our backyard, something which probably created terror among the mice; but it didn’t look like the fisher paused to ambush any of the little rodents. The mice appeared to be carrying corn from the deer feeder to holes in the snow which probably led to nests in the grass two feet below the snow surface.<BR><BR>By Tuesday, the world had pretty well adjusted to the cold snap and life went on. The Wimp Factor was fading fast.