Friday’s Weekend Column
Everything Was All Right, For a Minute

by James Glaser
November 26, 2004

Last Saturday I went down to the Beltrami County Fairgrounds for an auction. I was looking for a wood cook stove and they had a picture of one on the auction bill. It wasn't what I wanted. Oh, it was nice, but it didn't have a water reservoir and I wanted that for hot water. Also wood heat dries out the house so much and that water on the side of the stove seems to put some moisture back in the air.

Charmaine and I were avid auction goers. We always had a good time and we looked forward to having lunch there. Some auctions have lunches put on by church groups to raise money and some have their own lunch wagons. Sometimes they have chicken and potato salad and sometimes it is a hotdog or a sloppy joe. We always enjoyed ourselves even if we didn't buy anything.

After going to these things for awhile you get to know other people who go too and you even know what they collect by what they bid on. You find out who are antique dealers and by watching their bidding you learn what things are worth. Dealers bid only up to a certain point, because they have to make a profit, but if it is an object that they personally collect and they want it, they will bid up a lot higher.

One time we were at an auction and a kitchen cupboard came up that I really wanted and I was bidding away and some lady on the other side of the hay wagon they were working off of was bidding me way up. The auctioneer looked at me and said, "Aren't you two together?" It was Charmaine on the other side bidding against me. After that we stuck together when the bidding started.

Well Saturday I was at this auction and I went out side to the lunch wagon and out of habit I bought two sloppy joes and went back inside before I realized that I had come by myself and later on I was bidding and out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman who was turned the other way and she had Charmaine's hair and for just a second my life was great again. It only lasted for that few seconds. I quit bidding and left after that.

It is kind of funny how your mind plays tricks on you like that. I guess it was the setting and not having done an auction for so long, my mind just knew Charmaine would be right over there looking at something. It was funny how that hole in my heart was filled in a split second.

Sometimes I think that I have everything in control and that I know how to deal with life and then something like that happens and I have to start all over again, but I am getting better. I don't fall so far down into that hole as I did months ago.

We had snow the other night and a new season is starting. Almost every night the sky is clear and when the clouds go away the temperature really drops. It is hard to believe that clouds can hold the heat of earth down, but they really do.

On cloudy winter days it is usually warmer, but just like in the summer, you feel better and warmer with a bright sun shining down on you. There is no place on earth brighter than up here on a sun filled winter day with the sun reflecting off the snow. The inside of my house is bright.

You know, that night you are going to pay for that sunshine you had all day with a very cold night. If you are burning wood, you bring in extra. After dark you can go outside and hear the maple trees start to snap. It sounds almost like a rifle shot and if you try using one of the maples up here for lumber you find them filled with cracks in the wood from it splitting in the cold. It doesn't seem to bother their life expectancy as I have a couple of really huge ones in the yard and the sap in the spring flows just fine.

Also it seems that full moon nights, make that clear full moon nights, are the very coldest and maybe the most beautiful too. There is something strange about having it so light at night that you can see your own shadow in the snow and every tree casts a shadow. Deer seem to glide through the woods without making a sound, but the howl of the wolf or the call of an owl seems to be coming from right next to you.

Where ever you walk on one of these special nights, you can hear the crunch of snow under your feet and it sounds loud. After it comes, I think I like winter the best. It is always hard getting mentally ready for it, but once it is here you remember how peaceful it is. Clean too. Everything is white and all those leaves you didn't rake are out of sight for several months. There is no more yard cleanup and your yard never looked better.

Every morning you can go outside and see who visited last night by looking at the tracks in the snow. I know there are lots of rabbits around here because of all the tracks and different size ones too, but seldom do you see one. The deer tend to make paths and when the snow gets deep, they keep to those paths. Probably because that snow gets cold when their belly drags in it if they get off the path.

Little rodents walk on top of the snow and they leave faint tracks and sometimes you can see where that owl came down and snatched one of them up for a winter meal by the tracks ending at a disturbed place in the snow.

I don't know where all the birds live, but when ever the black sunflower seeds get put out on the feeder, they are there in minutes. I think that they watch that feeder from some protected branch and when one moves in, they all know it is time to eat. I have to have multiple feeders so that the squirrels can eat at one or two and the birds can snack at another. Those squirrels get so upset with the birds eating that they run from feeder to feeder chasing them off.

The feeders are like my own wild kingdom and it is almost like having a TV program and the window is the screen. You get to learn who are the locals and who came in for a visit. You have favorites that are real entertaining and ones that are out and out mean. Some birds are even comical with the way they eat. Nut hatches can climb right down a tree or the wall above a feeder head first and you would swear that they are going to fall right off, but they don't.

Winter up here is a time of reflection because you are living in solitude. Most of the people around the lake are some place else and things are quiet. There is very little traffic, but lots of movement. You can constantly see blowing snow and any wildlife on the move really shows up with the white background of the winter snow.

You are up here alone, but there is a lot of life to watch. You are in a warm snug house and peace is all around you. Yes, I like winter the best. Now don't ask me about that when it is forty below and the truck won't start.

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