As we pulled in the yard Friday evening, my first reaction was, “Holy Cow! There’s a lot of snow here.”
The driveway was plowed and the sidewalks were shoveled, thanks to our friendly neighbors. The winter landscape was actually rather inviting and the kindness shown by our neighbors was a nice beginning to our first weekend up north since the winter solstice. I realized that yesterday, being the first day of spring, meant that we had not spent a single day in Moose Lake this winter. That had to be the first time since the 80s when we would annually fly south for the winter to Mexico, Belize, Texas or our other southern paradise of South Dakota. Although the calendar said spring, the yard said winter, with plenty of it left.
The unwelcome home came when we turned on the water. A mini-Niagara Falls came flowing from the upstairs bathroom. Earlier we had a momentary malfunction in our heating system shortly after leaving our Moose Lake home. Although the neighbors detected it in a matter of a few days, the house got cold enough to freeze. Our repairman quickly had the heat back on, but it was too late for many of our house plants and a few water pipes. We left the detection of the water damage until spring when we would be able to return and inspect the water situation first hand.
So, as it turned out, our first weekend home in three months was spent with no running water, no cooking and worst of all, no whirlpool to soak in. It also meant no shower or toilet to use. We couldn’t even wash our hands or get a drink from the faucet. We didn’t mind dining out. That meant no dishes to wash.
My wife and I reflected on the half dozen years we lived in our log cabin when we first called Minnesota home. We not only endured no running water, we also had no indoor plumbing, no electricity and no telephone. A wood stove fueled our heat and cooking. Propane and kerosene provided almost adequate lighting. There were no cell phones at that time in life, but I did build a nice A-frame outhouse complete with old Sears and Roebuck catalogues.
All was not unwelcoming on our first trip home for the weekend. Saturday morning as I stood outside breathing in the crisp, clean northern air, I heard it. The sound was the song of our male cardinal that has spent the past several years living in our woods. I feared that he and his mate may have flown south for the winter as we were not around to provide feed. He no sooner sang out that pretty love song of his when his mating call was answered by the female. While a male cardinal is a brilliant red color, the female is very different. She is a pleasant looking gray with a few slightly colored markings. A difference can also be detected in their mating calls and answers. Both are rather melodic and similar in tone, but with a quite different song.
All in all, it really was good to be back home again. We had breakfast with old friends and learned some details about their interesting winter. I received several greetings from well-wishers who read my column even though I had to take a two-month hiatus from story writing. My apologies, but I just didn’t have my heart in it.
Next week, I am looking forward to the baseball opener for the Minnesota Twins. A backdrop of snow is certain to make this setting rather unique. Shortly thereafter, with the help of some warmer weather, Sand Lake will melt her ice. Then I can get my pontoon back on the water and really feel welcomed home.