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Dick Herfindahl: The cold puts a little crunch in your step

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl

 

There is nothing like the crunching sound that winter makes beneath your feet. By that I mean that as winter’s temperature drops below zero there is a distinct “crunch” underfoot as you walk on the snow. I don’t believe anyone will be sneaking up on me anytime soon.

Yes, the sound of winter can definitely be called crispy and sometimes, downright brutal. This is a good time to remind yourself of the fact that you need to dress for the occasion when the weather outside is frightful. It really bothers me when I see little kids walking to and from school with nothing but a sweatshirt or light jacket on when we have sub-zero weather. Different organizations usually collect coats and winter wear in the fall to be made available to those that need it.

I have been watching the rabbits and squirrels as they busily go about their daily routine of searching for food in the yard and especially around my bird feeders. It is kind of a shame that I have to squirrel-proof my squirrel-proof bird feeders because the squirrels that hang out in my yard have figured out a way to get around it. This is a game the squirrels and I have been playing for years. Just when I think I have outsmarted those bushy-tailed little climbing rodents they figure out a way around it and it’s back to the drawing board.

I have always enjoyed finding fresh tracks in the snow and trying to identify the critters that made them. Rabbits and squirrels are the easy ones, but every once-in-a-while something will come along that has me totally stumped. That is the fun part, the mystery of identifying a new critter track is always a fun one to solve.

 

Snowmobile safety tips from the DNR

Watch the weather and check trail conditions before riding

Don’t ride in adverse weather conditions. Plan your trip and check the trails you’ll be riding prior to departure. Check for trail conditions and trail maps on the DNR website.

Don’t drink alcohol and ride

Alcohol is a factor in over 60% of all fatal accidents in Minnesota, as well as many non-deadly snowmobile accidents. Alcohol and drugs have a negative effect on the driver’s vision, balance, coordination and reaction time.

Don’t ride with people who drink and ride

Minnesota is part of a larger coalition of snowmobiling states that support ‘Zero Alcohol’ consumption before or during your ride.

Never ride alone

Always ride with a friend on another snowmobile. This way if one machine is disabled, you have another to get help.

Stay on the trail or stay home

Trespassing is a major complaint about snowmobilers and can result in trail closure. Always stay on designated snowmobile trails. Venturing off of trails can result in accidents. Only ride private property when you have the landowners’ permission.

The other day, as I was driving down to Lake Mills, a young eagle flew across the road in front of me. It had its full array of colors in its plumage, but judging from its size I had to assume that it was a young one. A few miles down the road there were two adult eagles feasting on a road kill that ended up in the ditch. They were huge and their size alone was impressive. I have to admit that any time I see a wild animal up close I consider it a good day.

On my way to Lake Mills and back I have seen a few portable fish houses on Pickerel Lake. There have been two or three of them in the same area in a part of the lake that I have usually never seen any houses before. This has peaked my curiosity as to what kind of fish they catching there? It could be pike, but I am thinking they might be getting some jumbo perch. I guess I will never know for sure unless I talk so someone in the know.  Fishermen are pretty secretive folks when it comes to sharing any information, especially when it comes to protecting their “hot spot.”

Until next time, I encourage everyone to keep area police officer Arik Matson, who was shot and critically injured, in your thoughts and prayers. It sounds like he is making progress in his recovery, but still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Please take a few moments to also honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Also, take a little extra time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have served and those troops serving today.