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Across The Lake

When it's cold and it's a holiday, seemed like a good time to take one more look at some of the Christmas letters while the wind was blowing and the young buck had left the bird feeder emptied once again. Merry Christmas, I thought and said it aloud in Inupik, an Alaskan native tongue. "Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluarittlo" is how Tina Carlson spelled it out. She and Harlon wrote from Anchorage. Bill and Paula Roberts live in Colorado, a couple of 'ole mountain folk' who trekked to the Wind River country in Wyoming -- lucky people.

Not everyone had good years: Bill Pearce's brother, Murray, died, reminding me of the years Murray was learning to become a CPA and paid for his education working as a blackjack dealer in Las Vegas. And former secretary, Maureen, was in the Florida Keys but Scott had to leave his boat in Virginia -- engine problems -- but if that boat is as big and pretty as it looks, leaving it behind even for a short time must have hurt.

Brother, Rodney, has made so many trips to Europe that it probably seems old hat to him, but he bought a lottery ticket at either the PLU Yule Boutique or the Yule Fest at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle. Now he and Evelyn are going to have to pack their bags again -- they won a trip to Scandinavia on Icelandic Airlines. You have to feel sorry for people like that, I suppose.

It's probably been a long time and a lot of people may not even know what a Walnetto is, but for those who don't, it's a small individually wrapped piece of caramel candy with bits of walnut mixed in. The question, "How about a Walnetto?" is what got the decrepit old man slapped when he snuggled up and asked it of Ruth Buzzi on the TV program, Laugh In. The only reason it's brought up here is that I just happened across a clipping reminding me that the Walnetto first came to market just 50 years ago.

A squirrel is a diurnal rodent, but I wasn't aware that around the world, there are some 260 different species including the common red and grey ones which abound hereabouts. When I spotted a black one at the bird feeder, I had to ask Bob Newcomb if I was really seeing one. "Oh, sure," he told me. "They're not that common, but they're not really rare." He went on to mention that one of the Falks a while back had a few around his place west of Blackduck and a niece near Wadena had some at her place. He named a couple of others and then went on to talk about fox squirrels and flying ones, too.

The red ones seem to hibernate, but there are varieties of squirrel that estivate -- they go dormant in the summer. The greys -- and that black one -- are vegetarians with an apparent liking for sunflower seeds in bird feeders. Fortunately, they're not as large as some of the other members of their Scuridae family. In Asian locations, they sometimes reach a length of 35 inches.

He'll likely object to my saying this, but when I was a kid, he kept trying to teach me how to snare weasels, but I never learned. Years later when we moved back 'home,' we sort of picked up. Not snaring weasels, but just trying to learn a little more about the birds and beasts around our place across the lake. He reminded me where George Hines had his resort, where old Grandpa Bill Hines had tapped maple trees on the wrong side of the fence, where the county road ran before it was moved.

Some people still call them 'game wardens' which is fine, but Department of Natural Resources agents -- DNR personnel -- if they're smart, have learned a lot from what Bob has passed on. Maybe not directly, but he's never been selfish about sharing all he's learned over the years. He's hunted and fished and he's trapped wild game, large and small. From his home on Gull Lake, he's watched eagles feeding on the ice and 'ass-ups' on the bird feeders. Very interesting man.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... One of the nice things about Christmas cards and letters is hearing from people with whom you worked and played or neighbored with while you lived nearby. You realize there are some you won't hear from again, but then you smile and realize how many are still on your "don't forget" list. Hope we didn't miss you.