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December 4th, 2009:

Ice Fishing? Seriously?

As you may or may not know, I spent the first 23 years of my life in MN. That would explain my hatred of all things small that buzz around your head while you’re trying to sleep and my love of that fluffy white stuff that falls from the sky.

I now reside in the lovely state of Colorado, right on the front range with an amazing view of Pikes Peak. How anyone could ever get sick of seeing that in the morning is beyond me – 13 years and I still smile every morning when I see it :-)

There are a lot of transplants here . . . lots of people form all over, but really lots of people from warm places like Texas and California. So today at work, my boss (an avid hunter and fisherman) said “Ahhhhhh . . . just four more inches of ice on the lakes and we can head out for some ice fishin’!” I was all “Ooooooh I’m so jealous. I LOVE ice fishing!” The other ladies, who are both from Texas, looked at me with the craziest eyes and said “Ice fishing? Seriously? You love ice fishing?” Then they got to hear all about my memories of ice fishing . . . maybe I only had this experience once, I don’t know, but I remember it vividly, right down to the coat I was wearing – bright pink with fake gray fur around the hood.

It was a beautiful sunny winter day in MN – the kind of day where you stared at the flaming sun against the beautiful blue sky and wondered how the sun could be so big and bright yet your nostrils still froze together instantly when you accidentally forgot yourself and took a breath through your nose.

My Dad loaded my brother and I into the plastic blue sled – the one with the twine for a handle. He put the hand auger on Pat’s lap and the poles and bait on my lap. He carried the three 5-gallon buckets, the thermos of hot chocolate, and the butter and bologna sandwiches in one hand while pulling us in the sled with the other.

As we rode out across the lake in the sled, listening to the ice cracking beneath us, Pat dared me to stick my tongue to the zipper on my jacket to see if it would stick. It did.

We finally got to what Dad announced was the perfect fishing spot. Pat and I hopped out of the sled and ran around throwing snowballs and ice chunks at each other and slipping on the ice while Dad manually turned the auger to dig us a some fishing holes. Pat and I got to take turns with the little strainer scooper thingy and scoop the ice out of our holes. When all the holes were ready, Dad set out the 5 gallon buckets, put a fishing pole in our right hand and a cup of hot chocolate in our left, and we fished.

I don’t remember if we caught any fish. I don’t remember how many times we had to pound the ice out of the holes with a screwdriver after they froze over on our lines. I don’t remember how the frost bite on my cheeks felt.

But I do remember spending that bitter cold sunny winter day sitting on a 5-gallon pail in the middle of a frozen lake with my brother, my dad, and a cup of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.