Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fish Fear Them

"There's a whole ice fishing culture," Larry Stelmach told me as he huddled over a hole in the ice at the 19th Annual Ice Fishing Contest. "Some people think we're crazy. It takes a special kind of person to do this." He's not kidding -- and he's not alone. There were approximately 10000 people on ice-covered Gull Lake. It was -15 when we left the lodge at 10:30. I think it made it up to 0 by afternoon. Fishermen -- and women -- started lining up to have their fish weighed just minutes after the opening cannon. And they kept it up for several hours, hoping for prizes. The big winners are the charities supported by this fab festival and the community which has developed such a great cameraderie in the effort. Was I cold. Yes, but not as much as you might think. Of course, I had on so many layers of clothing that I couldn't bend my arms or legs -- two pairs of wool socks, two pairs of long underwear (one silk, one cotton), blue jeans, insulated pants, a turtleneck topped by a sweatshirt covered by my down coat, insulated gloves and boots, a knit headband over my ears and topped off by my now beloved and much appreciated spiderman mask! What a great day! I still hate cold weather but these Minnesotans know how to party and they don't let a little thing like cold temps slow them down. And they're cute. Lots of lumberjack-looking guys -- towering hunks with lots of facial hair and nice manners. Larry offered me a beer. After my, "No, thanks," he added, "Would you think I was rude if I had one." Are you kidding? What a gentleman. And he took off his glove to shake my hand when I left. I was impressed. But then, a lot of things have impressed me on this trip.

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