Surprise! Surprise! But what’s next?

The first warm and sunny day in what seems like months caught us by surprise on the last day of the most brutal January we have experienced in decades.
After deciding that had been just too much, too long, too cold, and too windy with altogether the balmiest Friday came as a complete surprise. It came in almost after we had forgotten to expect it.
We know January never fails to hand us a thaw, usually about halfway through. That is probably what keeps us anchored here instead of sailing on down to Florida with so many of our neighbours.
While we should realize by now that Florida is out of reach financially, why not try to get away—even if just once.
But maybe our weather will turn around in our favour and we can avoid the same old coffee spots for once instead of meeting hopefully every morning for encouraging weather reports, weather mistakenly benign, or not because we all have different versions to argue about.
And in it comes our dream day! Which we know is too good to last long. But after the awful stuff we have survived so far, we welcome it with open arms as we rush up the lake, or at least over the Causeway as far as the Seven-Mile bridge, and begin to consider life as being not so bad after all.
Why at this rate, we’ll soon be into summer and congratulate us already because we are all survivors.
How many other people around the world have been through what we have lately? All those murderous zeros.
And all that money that might have taken us southward now can go toward that new boat and motor.
There actually was a small pool of melted snow noticed in the middle of all that lake ice—just enough to tease you into forgetting for the moment there still are two full months of winter looming over. And those ladies with bikinis better not be getting too impatient about showing them off just yet!
• • •
You’d be wise to oil your snowblower and fill the gas cans while expecting snowstorms through the weeks ahead. Saturday’s small squall may have measured almost as much depth as all we received previously this winter altogether—but the rest of it still must be waiting in ambush.
And remember, the closer we get to spring, the steadier the snow falls. There come the weeks when sometimes it never stops.
One rule applies more or less regularly. If the degrees keep dropping, the cold weather lasts, there won’t be enough snow coming to worry about.
So which would you prefer, our recent zero, zero, zero stuff, with a stiff wind thrown in like we just came through, or wading snow and shovelling and wishing the kids would hurry home to help you?
Might not be a bad idea to let a neighbour know you would get him a hockey ticket occasionally in return for a morning run through your driveway in his 4X4 before you go to work.
You say you’re new here and have never before gone through a northern winter. Well, never mind because our recent winters have been very mild and pleasant and not at all like the January we just left behind. So good luck!
But just so you cannot say you were not warned ahead of time, this winter may be the one we always have known would be coming around again. So whenever you can, just get out there and enjoy.
And please don’t lose your temper like the rest of us every time something breaks or won’t start, or your back pains from all that shovelling!
• • •
But this time of year always brings so much amusement in the mail. Your sense of humour seems to develop more with every one of those long envelopes reaching you daily to bring in the latest news of your property taxes, income taxes, heating consumption, and leftover Christmas bills.
This is altogether enough to make you forget about any rough weather.
Sort of a pleasant coincidence isn’t it, all that kind of luck lumped together. Takes your mind off winter woes.
• • •
When they don’t skate there any longer, the local old-timers are using the old arena for their walking exercise, round and round the upper deck. It’s said, if I remember rightly, it takes nine rounds to make a mile.
• • •
Glenn Westover reports attendance was down slightly Friday night for the Legion ladies auxiliary’s monthly supper at 157 diners. “We’re usually within five or 10 people,” he says.
• • •
How many broken wrists so far this winter because of falls on icy sidewalks? One time a few years ago, the clinic manager reported six in one morning!
Streets are all bare now in the nearest cities.
• • •
Danila and Dave Hoard can give you a cheerful conversation over coffee. Finally, we got discussing his father, Bill, who had only limited use of one hand and arm but never let that stop him!
Bill was a fastball pitcher of note and also enjoyed construction projects. He bought the old school in La Vallee the same year I acquired the Alberton school, both brick buildings, so I know Bill was very capable.
• • •
The Vic Davis office building at old Lakeland Marina is now sporting a new well-windowed look as Vic continues to go ahead in a showy way.
• • •
It must seem like spring because there is an offer on my riverside farm. Anyone else interested should speak up now—I’m open to negotiations.
• • •
This week I’m just getting acquainted with a different portable typewriter (with tricks all its own), a gift from Edie Carlson. She got it for a dollar, which I cheerfully forked over.
My faithful old Royal had withstood attempts to revive her and I refuse to spring for a computer. Thanks, Edie.
• • •
Among the old home folks who stopped to chat this week were Ruby Gallegher, a retired teacher who taught my youngsters in Alberton, and Leonard Roy, a versatile athlete from the days of the old Northern Hockey League and competitive log-rolling.
Leonard helped our Walter Christiansen and Mike Hupchuk form the Falls Yankees and oppose our senior Canadians who backed the Yankees to make a better league with the Iron Range teams. They also gave our Canadians a tough time!
Leonard trained summertime with the national champion, Frank Peloquin, in log-rolling.
• • •
Handed an old photo needed for our upcoming centennial edition, I found nobody who could put many names on a lineup of papermill guards from too many years ago. And those trying included Stan Ward and Al Bedard, who proved just not old enough.
Anyone else interested can find that photo at the Times.
• • •
Stan Hawley reports three feet of ice on Rainy Lake right now!

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