Then it was briefly off to the South, for Lynn Malmberg's New Year's Party, with the Damrows and many others from yesteryear. And then, the same day, a long, long drive, through numerous wrong turns, till we reached our destination an hour south of Duluth at 2 in the morning: my uncle's cabin next to Lake Minerva.
See hovertext on selected photos.
Early the first evening, I got a chance to get on my skis again. It was difficult plowing through the snow on classic skis, for the tracks had snow blown in them. But there was a certain thrill, to ski on top of a lake, walking on water as if I were some incarnation. Sure, there was 16" of ice between me and the water, but there were thinner spots to watch out for. And constantly, there was a unique echo of the swish, swish, that you hear only on top of a frozen lake, as my skis beat their sound into the water below.
I toured round the lake, till I found two companions, the larger one with freestyle skis, able to blaze a more ready trail. On our return, with the freezing evening, we hit just the right temperature for a perfect glide.
Later that evening was the bonfire, on ice. But it was too cold, so I stayed out only for a few minutes.
I've long wanted to the experience of ice fishing. I was planning to do this with my dad, but sadly, he's heading off to Florida in a few days, so I jumped at the chance when my cousins, Eric and Michael, were heading out.
When we arrived, we discovered a fishing village already on the ice. Upon seeing the blue and green one, with the TV and woodstove, we developed a severe case of Fish Hut Envy.
This was my first time out, so my cousins generously allowed me to drill the hole. We had only a hand auger, and one of the other fishermen, the one with the super fish hut, came running over to drill with his battery-powered auger. Upon hearing that I was their cousin, he asked incredulously, "You made your cousin drill by hand?!?"
"I know!" I said.
Our home for the next few hours was rather dismal compared to the others on the lake. But it fits two people nicely, and allows for conversation. Cold conversation.
There is a thing called a tip-up. You put it up a few feet away from you, outside the shelter, and it hunts automatically for fish. When a fish is snagged, it tips-up, and you run out and get it.
While Eric was preparing the tip-up, we got to see how bald eagles do ice fishing. He got one more fish than we did. (Though the next day Eric and Michael got 2 fish apiece, each the width of this blog.)
The next day was back on the lake for a morning ski. Eric and Michael had previously created an ice rink, now covered with newly fallen snow.
Cross-Country is immensely more relaxing than downhill. You have the opportunity to sit and admire the beauty of God. Or, follow the path of all men, and be impressed at how you changed the shape of nature behind you.
Ahead, the snow piled like frozen oceanic waves.
I paused, and could go no further. I'd been warned that the ice was thin at the strait, and so turned, for an easier ski in the tracks I'd made.
It was a weekend of getting to know family for the first time, or the first time since I was an infant. A weekend of evenings of long talks on literary criticism with my uncle- a far too rare pleasure. I even got a chance to play my election game, though we all found it went far too long. And finally a weekend of long six-hour drives.