Friday's Weekend Column
Summer is in a Holding Pattern

by James Glaser
June 25, 2004

It may be summer by the calendar, but this morning my furnace kicked on and people around here have been covering their gardens like it was fall. All of my plants are fine, as out here at the lake there is less chance of frost, but because it has been so cold they are just sitting there doing nothing.

Here is an example of just how cold it has been this summer. On Memorial Day our VFW goes out to all the local cemeteries and as I remember it, the peonies are usually all budded out ready to open. This year, my peonies are at that stage right now and if it stays chilly, they will just sit there until it warms up.

I have tomatoes on the vine, but last year at this time I was eating them and giving some away to other growers, because mine were so early. What really gets me is that weeds grow no matter what the temperature is.

Right now is the time of year that every small town in Northern Minnesota has their festival or parade. In early August we have our County Fair/Bear Festival. In Effie they have a Rodeo and other towns have Tall Timber Days, Farmers Day, Wood Tick Race Day, Steam Power Machine Days, Bull Head Day, and any other excuse someone can think of to get people to their town for a weekend.

The main thing every town tries to do, is to not have their celebration on the same weekend as some town close by. A divided crowd is a small crowd for both towns. The 4th of July up here means a trip to Big Falls, about 30 miles north of here. Our town is dead that weekend, because everyone is up there.

Big Falls residents pride themselves on their fire works display and they are better than what many big cities have. Also they have a fine parade, old time logging contests, ball games, horse shoe tournaments, and two street dances.

Another summer thing that is in full swing right now is Auctions. This weekend I'm going to one in Kelliher, where they are selling out a sawmill and logging operation. In the auction bill it says they have "thousands of feet, mainly cedar, stored inside." There are trucks, tractors, skidders, post pointers, and even a portable post peeler.

They will also have food for sale by some church group. These auctions are a real social event, where you get a chance to talk to people you haven't seen in years. You always hope that there is no one interested in what you want to bid on and some times, very rarely, that happens and you get your item for a song.

At one auction that Charmaine and I went to, we found that we were bidding against each other. She was on one side of the auction wagon and I was on the other. I was thinking, who is that person bidding me up and she was thinking the same.

Yes, there is a lot to do up here in the summer, but they all would be a lot more fun, if the weather would co-operate. I like to go to auctions and I'll even enjoy a good parade, but they are never fun when it is cold and damp out. We need a few weeks in the 80s or hotter. I want to go swimming or sit by a camp fire telling stories and drinking coffee. I could do that, but it would have to be a big fire and I would have to sit real close to keep warm and that isn't what I want.

Today I saw about thirty mud turtles all in a group. They were sitting on the reeds that had floated up to the shore of the lake. I have never seen close to that number at one time and I have no idea of what they were doing, except sunning themselves. Right now turtles can be seen everywhere.

Snappers are now looking for sandy areas to bury their eggs and you usually see those crossing roads. They are kind of cool to look at as they are almost prehistoric looking. They hiss and are a lot faster than you would think, and they are mean. They have a beak or hard mouth that could cut your finger right off. So I just watch them from a ways away and make sure they get across the road as road accidents kill lots of them.

Well, summer is going to go on no matter what I think and maybe because it is too cold and wet to enjoy myself, I will get more things done around here. I have a list a couple of pages long and I am not crossing many things off so far this summer. Ever since Charmaine died I have about 10 minutes of ambition and find myself moving from one job to another. I make a little progress and then lose interest. It will get better and I will keep plugging along until it does.

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