Lake ice tempting traffic

While I am completely at home on or around Rainy Lake, I saw something there last Saturday evening that’s bothered me ever since! There were tire tracks across the lake near our cabins where, at this early date, there should not have been! Because the ice still could be dangerously thin! Immediately I remembered our host of past drownings and all the funerals, including the loss of friends (both summer and winter, of course). Somehow, the winter drownings seemed worse. I thought back to the 1930s, about the time of the Kenora highway construction, and the long search for a young man whose name perhaps was Chabot. Scores of town and district men volunteered to help that search, which lasted for weeks before the body finally was found. Then during or shortly after the Second World War, I think, three youths perished when their loaded pulpwood truck sank in Rainy’s North Arm. After we moved from Mine Centre, my father’s friend and former employer, mine owner Angelo Paccito, and his young son, Donald, drowned in well-named Bad Vermilion Lake, which is believed bottomless. Paccito was hauling a truckload of firewood for a Mine Centre widow. Nearby Shoal Lake claimed prospector partners Arthur Stone and “Doc” Smiley in a summer drowning. Harvey Hudson, from the marina at Windy Point, reported a seven-inch ice cover on Rainy Lake last weekend, which was believed sufficient for car traffic as I noticed from the tire tracks. Just go slowly to avoid starting wave action ahead. This seems incredible after so few cold nights but unless we receive an unlikely thaw, safety should continue to increase until eventually the two-foot thick ice cakes once sold door-to-door around town by the late Ovide Gosselin will become available again to commence pulpwood trucking! Walkers crossing the river here were noticed wearing snowshoes for safety.
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You realize the Calders are a stick-together family when Gordon, now 74, while once the “kid” on the old Allan Cup Canadians’ roster, was dining with most of his seven sisters. His late brother, George, also a puckster, was my boyhood friend.
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A Costa Rica contribution to our noon gathering includes sociable Josa Vargas, who stopped to shake hands. I had mentioned a growing scattering of Latinos here since a group arrived from Portugal for help at Rainycrest. I gave her a verse from the “Isle of Capri” song after reporting that’s where my father came from.
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A Christmas card from the late Georgina Peloquin’s daughter, Lynette Zirk of Manitoba, brightened my Christmas when she wrote our friendship was the happiest five years of her mother’s life!
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Leonard Olson is back from Thunder Bay again, still using his “seeing” eye cane and marvelous memory! The handsome cane has one glass eye!
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Following his regular pre-Christmas break away somewhere scouting for whatever fresh delivery he can scheme up, “Nutty” returns very indignant! He peers through my sliding glass balcony window with a scowl, as if he had expected to find my balcony floor covered with peanuts by swindling some poor merchant out of tonnage of Nutty’s favourite food. He digs into the snow like he knew I had buried them out of spite rather than pay for them myself. So he sneers at me like he knew all along I had very little money—certainly not enough to feed his huge family all winter. He has invited every one of his relatives over to my home for Christmas and knows they will turn on him in revenge if no Yuletide feasting is available. He won’t listen when I tell him he belongs in jail for his foolishness—and not me! You see, this small crook believes he can get away with anything he dreams up! He needs to be put away somewhere not around my home! And the quicker, the better! Yes, Nutty can be amusing, but not to me. With the end of this crazy year coming up, I’ve had too much from him and anyone interested in a live present can take him home before I leave him in a box at the post office in exchange for whatever I receive from friends I used to have. I’m not saying I don’t like squirrels, but I’m going “squirrely” myself while looking after them and their ringleader. Life was once “quite okay” before I got this Nutty guy coming around.
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There will be various versions, but the high schoolers at McDonald’s last Thursday at noon told me many had filed in early and excited that their school was upset by warnings of violence! Unlike other schools around the province, no guns were reported but the OPP was present and also came to the restaurant. Students told me that posters threatening violence were attached to school walls inciting agitation—and that girl students from a group that wears black shirts were blamed.
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There are happy poets among us here whose work may never see wide readership but is quite entertaining. June Kowalchuk, for instances, will read about her big trip to the central U.S., describing many attractions she found. June is the widow of John, who played guitar with me long ago. And I have a neighbour, Marge Solomon, who picks up her pen often to rhyme enjoyable verses mostly on nature.
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Bill Morrison reports his German Shepherd dog taught him how to swim by allowing Bill to hang on while imitating him in the water. Bill got the dog paddle “down pat” and then graduated to other strokes.

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