Friday's Weekend Column
This Says It All, High Today -20degrees

by James Glaser
January 30, 2004

Enough already! Old man winter is here with a vengeance. Duluth received 25 inches of snow this week, but it missed us as we only got maybe 10 inches. We are both in the deep freeze now with -34 this morning. Some towns up here were reporting -43.

When it gets this cold even the loggers call it quits. It is not the men that can't take this cold, it's the machines. Equipment run in this cold breaks down and you save money by staying out of the woods. Years ago the old timers tell me, it didn't matter how cold it was nor what day of the week, they were living in camps out in the woods and every day was a work day.

Of course even when I was a kid the snow drifts were higher and the winter lasted from October all the way into May. That is why people around here are starting their garden seedlings right now. Some people even get the corn started early, just in case we have an early frost.

It is kind of nice to transplant tomatoes that have blossoms on them already. Sure it is easy to buy your plants at a greenhouse, but then your choice is pretty limited. This year I am doing an Early Girl that takes only 54 days, and one called Radiator Charles's Mortgage Lifter. It is said that this tomato saved some guy's farm because he made enough cash selling the extra fruit and made his payment. At 72 days to maturity, I want this one to have a real good start.

I am a red tomato fan. There are pink, yellow, white, and even black ones, but I find that the red color is needed for a real fine looking BLT on toast. That thick sliver of red next to the green lettuce and the white mayo and then the ends of the bacon sticking out, Wow! I can tell it has been a while and when that first tomato finally is ripe I will be right there waiting. I spilt the first one with Charmaine and we tend to over do it with sandwiches and eating them raw by themselves. After a few weeks of unlimited tomato eating, we sort of slack off and start giving them away to friends and neighbors. In the fall we freeze as many as we can and today I am cooking spaghetti sauce with our tomatoes.

Each year we think we have enough perennial flowers to fill all of the gardens, but then the seed catalogs come with these pictures of flowers we have never seen before and we want them. Most are for down south where they have little frost in the winter, Here the frost can go down six feet in the ground, so plants have to be pretty hardy to survive,

That frost can cause many problems. If you die up here in the winter and want to be buried in a small cemetery you will just have to wait till spring. Some cemeteries have a building they keep you in until the frost comes out and for others you rent a spot at the funeral home. In the bigger towns the grave digger has a metal box he puts over the grave and there is a heater inside. The heat drives the frost out and then he can dig, but it costs extra, a lot extra.

A few years ago our Honor Guard had to do a winter internment at a small cemetery way east of Northome. It was real cold and there was a strong wind coming off of a long field on the north side. We looked around and there wasn't any protected spot, so we set up past the grave and the family was on the other side.

The minister looked very young and the first thing he said was that this was his first grave side service and everyone had told him, short was better. We were all thinking the same thing. I was holding the Post Colors, we had one man on the American Flag, three riflemen for the salute, one man to say the prayer and present the flag to the family and one man to help fold the flag and run the tape machine for Taps. We had no bugler that day.

The minister was going on and on, he completely forgot the advice about keeping it short. My hands were very cold and I kept switching them as we only had those thin white gloves on. Finally the dead man's mother moved up in front of the minister and gave him the cut sign by running her hand across her neck and he got the drift.

We quick said the Prayer for our Departed Comrade, shot the rifles three times, folded the flag and gave it to the guy's mother and hit the button for the Taps and the tape broke. We were all glad to get out of there and back to the church basement for some hot coffee. I have done a lot of funerals since that one and have never seen that minister again.

Funerals like that one is the reason that many people wait until spring for the burial. Our Honor Guard now has a talk with every minister at every funeral to remind them that we like a short graveside service. Some get longer. At one, the grand kids played the harmonica because their Grandfather, who we were burying, had taught all of them how to play it. Then the whole family sang You Are My Sunshine. It was nice.

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