Someday When I’m Social Distancing

I once wrote a column with the prophetic title, “Someday When I’m Quarantined.” In it, I vowed that if I were ever unable to leave my home for a few months, I’d finally do all of the things I don’t normally have time to do. I’d put my old photos into albums, clean my closets and take up my guitar again, much to the annoyance of anyone quarantined with me.
It was just big talk though, because I never thought it would really happen. But here we are and I’m happy to report that all my closets are now clean, my photos are organized and I’m practicing my guitar for an hour every day. You don’t believe me? I dare you to drop by and check. No. Don’t do that.


Trout Whisperer - Dirty work

I can’t take it anymore, I’ve had too many wood shed days in a row. My snowshoes look tired, last November, December, January they looked fun, that’s over, and the icicles of late are pretty long in the tooth - what an eave crop of them we’ve got growing. It’s all too much, so, heavy sigh of, oh my, so, today while the rest of the world does Lord knows what, I talked my Mrs. into letting me plant one pot of sugar snap peas for me to grow in the windowsill.
I get happy thinking about it. New shoots, maybe some leaves that offer potential. And if all goes right those soft white flowers that will allow for tiny sweet peas. It’s a little thing, but in my world, it’s becoming a big deal.


Snap Tales “Spring”

Spring came today. It was a bit tardy this year, but as they say, better late than never. There is no doubt when the first day of spring arrives. One senses a change that is almost indiscernible. Calendar date has nothing to do with it. Temperature isn’t the only factor – if it was, a January thaw would lead to a lot of heartbreak. A general feeling is in the air. Maybe it’s the angle of the sun, maybe a difference in the song of the chickadee. Possibly it’s the feel of a chinook wind as it catches your face from the west. Whatever the signal, it is unmistakable.


I can hear it leaving

Where the river departs the lake, all winter long the water flowed and when a fellow like me has spring fever worse than any other year I can recall, I needed some of that open water view, and so to it, I did go.
I liked knowing before I arrived, it would be what I saw many times this winter. I knew before I’d go there, it would be moving water. Gurgles would occur to my ear, if I listened close enough from the snowy bank. Truly I couldn’t wait.
I hobbled along a deer trail tucking under budded alders. Snow would slush below my boots and then there in front of me - a winter’s rut of deer tracks making their way. That helped my way be easier to hike as they must know as I did, what was up ahead. It hastened my step to be sure.


Hook and Bullet Club

The first day of March and we went looking for signs of spring.
Our friends at the National Weather Service said it was the first day of meteorologic spring. Of course they told us the other day it was going to go from -18 degrees in the morning to 40 in the afternoon. When I questioned this on Twitter, I got a great response: “We’re marketing, Mother Nature handles production.”
Marketing or not the calendar tells us we’re closer to the walleye opener every day. But fishing wasn’t the plan for the day, I wanted to get Mary out to the shack so she could see the change in the scenery.
This past winter the area around us was logged off. After 20 years of seeing the same trees we can now see a lot farther in nearly every direction.
“Wow!’ She said as we came up to the driveway.
“You sure can see a long ways away now.”


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

As we get older, the things you take for granted growing up begin to cast doubt on everyday living. One thing I find cheery are office visits from old friends such as Gary Niskala. He says he plans to keep working another nine years in the airplane industry.
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Some folks are still sending in their renewal payment with their likes in the Echo noted. When you live away from your Ely grandchildren as the Whytes do, your favorite is “seeing my grandchildren in different activities.”
The Native Son is a popular column, and it’s a shame that health issues have kept Charlie Novak from writing.
Other favorites worthy of mention by readers are: Sports and school news, Editorial Page, Progress edition Trout Whisperer, Miscellaneous Drawer and the O’Clock interviews.
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Ode to an extra day

You know that old poem?
Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November;
All the rest have thirty-one,
Excepting February alone,
And that has twenty-eight days clear
And twenty-nine in each leap year
In honor of leap year, I’d like to expand on it:
An extra day, but I’d like to know
Why put it in a month with snow?
And another thing, what’s the reason
It’s always during campaign season?
Leap day wasn’t created to give candidates one more day to campaign, but that is one of its drawbacks. We really have it because the solar year, the time required for the sun to make one complete cycle of the seasons, is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. In other words, we start every year almost six hours too early just so we won’t have to stay up until 6 a.m. to see the New Year in.


Pelican brief - Snowy day at the Library

February 10, 2020
Our cabin on Little Long Lake is the perfect place to be on a snowy day in February. But on this day, John, and our cocker spaniel, Sabrina, are enjoying all the splendid peace and quiet of that cozy cabin ambiance…with the snow flurries falling fast and furious onto the lake and forest outside. A man and his dog…John is the Man of the House today, as he catches up on office work from his business trip back to Florida this past week.
Perfect time for me to slide away into town to our beautiful Ely Public Library, to do some “reading, writing and arithmetic,” and to walk Sheridan and Chapman and Central streets where art work is hung in the shop windows with care, in hopes that the townspeople soon will be there!! These are the days of the Ely Winter Festival.


Love, Honor…and Make You See Things My Way

This year, I’m going to give my Valentine the best gift of all: understanding. And by that I mean, his understanding of me. Instead of a card, I’m giving him this letter explaining why I do what I do. Try it yourself. It’s a nice way to help your partner hear your side without having to listen to theirs.
Dear Valentine,
Our marriage has lasted these many years because we agree on politics, religion and the generous use of garlic and onions in family meals. But there are a few smaller issues that have troubled us, and as my gift to you, I’m taking the time now to explain my side so you’ll know why I’m right. Oh, and happy Valentine’s Day.
1. It’s true I have a peculiar tendency to leave cupboard doors open, giving the impression that someone broke in and ransacked the place looking to steal our Tupperware. I know this annoys you, but it’s such a waste of time to close a door I’m just going to have to open again in a day or two.


From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

The Norge Ski Club’s international winter ski jumping tournament returns for its 115th year. According to the Chicago Daily Herald, those years “included shipping snow to the site when area snowfall was scarce.”
The Fox River Grove club is known as “the oldest, continuously open ski club in the United States. The club was started in 1905 by a group of Norwegian men. Most lived in Chicago.” To make ski jumping available year around the club “purchased a new ski tower from Ely, Minnesota.”
Those were the days in Ely when ski jumping was a popular sport and attracted competitors from Canada and beyond.
It all makes sense to me.
My dad was a ski jumper growing up in the Glenwood/Starbuck area. He didn’t jump in Illinois, but he followed the sport. After WWII he bought Army-surplus cross country skis, but I don’t remember him or my siblings using them.
Ice skating was a different matter. We had our own winter rink in the side yard and we all skated.


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