Ice Fishing Is For Real

The ice house village is small this year.

Southwest Minnesota – prairieland – gets a lot of snow.  Snow that blows all over, creating amazing sculptures and effectively blocking my entire back yard.

Well…most years it does.  This year, not so much.

Finally, however, we have gotten about 5 inches of snow (with more coming down as we speak) and that’s made everyone in my house happy. It’s actually quite ironic that I’m able to include myself in the happy category. Growing up as I did in rainland, I am the first to admit that I don’t do well on snowy roads and I’d far rather stay home than brave the icy blacktop.

Awaiting the elusive fish...

I have a few other obvious non-Minnesota quirks I can’t ignore. I can’t ice skate (the last time I did – on a date in college – I got so embarrassed that I never wanted to see – let alone date – that particular fellow again). Nor can I ski. The last time I did that – in Switzerland circa 1986, the people going up on the ski lift pointed and laughed at me as I lay – a twisted and frozen wreck of a teenager – on the slopes below.

I spent the rest of that vacation making up excuses for not ever putting on a pair of skies again.  “Do I want to go skiing today?  Oh, sorry, but no.  I’m allergic to ski wax.” Or, “Can I join you for an afternoon on the slopes?  Oh, sorry, but no.  I sprained my watchamacallit and my feet won’t fit into my ski boots.  Such a bummer.”  Ok, I never really used any of those excuses, but I had fun imagining them up.

Ice fishermen...doing what I will never understand...and, I assume, loving it. More power to them!

And then there’s ice fishing. I deeply misunderstand ice fishing. When I first moved to the Duluth area, in the fall of 1993 (never having been in the Midwest in my life) I was invited to dinner at the home of our neighbors. I walked in the door, nervous and shy. The topic of conversation was none other than ice fishing. This did nothing to heighten my sense of compatibility with these people. In fact, as the conversation went on, a sneaking suspicion grew within me.

Ice fishing? Are they for real? I mean, honestly! This isn’t Alaska!

I truly, from the deep recesses of my insecure brain, became convinced that they were pulling my leg. Making this icy wilderness out to be worse than it already seemed to be. (It was close to 20 degrees below zero at the time. In Eugene, OR, where I had just moved from, it had been 45. Above.)

I sat there, silent, growing more and more certain that they were teasing me. I mean, no one – no sane individual, anyway – would want to GO FISHING ON THE ICE!  Would they?

Slowly the truth dawned. YES! They DO want to!!! They aren’t smiling. They aren’t glancing my way to see if I’m falling for this nonsense. In fact, not only do they want to drill a hole in the ice with an enormous auger and sit there in the frozen wasteland, but they eat, sleep, breathe ice fishing.

Ice fishing: the final proof that, though I love my life here in Minnesota, there are things that do not come naturally to a Miami-born island girl.