WAYZATA, Minn.--I went north to find people who truly reveled in ice in late January.
This is Gary Klingler drilling a hole early morning with a power auger. Power augers aren't a luxury in Minnesota, they're necessary.
It's a different mindset.
After our second straight bad winter, here's some reflections on ice, via a trip north to Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota.
I've lived all 51 of my winters in the north. But winter remains a struggle, an endurance test, it reminds me of wind sprints in soccer practice, a sort of necessary evil.
Even a sunrise over a comfy ice house doesn't do much for me beyond give an intellectual conception that it's beautiful.
Klingler of Big Dog Fishing Guide Service had invited me up because he was expecting delivery of this big fishing house, big enough to sleep four comfortably, more it necessary.
That seemed like a good way to contemplate ice, via the comfort of a well-heated fishing house.
The ice house was something, 20 feet of something with 10 holes to ice fish through in a setting as comfortable as my office.
This was the inside of the house. Maybe that is one of the secrets of surviving in tough winters, don't challenge the winter but build a comfort zone into it.
That's Gary sitting inside and fishing. And yes, it was a comfortable way to fish. I had 50 perch by noon on the first day.
Gary caught most of the crappie, which came through the second evening and bit well until 8 or 9 in the evening. And that is what we did, fish, except for the sleeping time.
We hoped for some big walleye to work up the saddles near the ice house. But that didn't happen. The picture fish, this nice pike, hit shortly after Gary set tip-ups the first morning. But that was it for big fish, though we caught plenty of other fish.
Ice is just playing surface here.
These bikers had a pickup come out and plow a track for them. They used an old bread truck that was already parked there as their base camp.
And the people kite skiing or skating. It was something to watch the colors.
Joggers ran across the ice. People walked their dogs on the ice.
Gary calmly told stories of some nights just deciding to take a short cut when driving out to eat or shop, and deciding to drive across the lake.
Sheesh, I had the willies just driving our little Saturn out there the first night. Every little crack the ice made, I was sure my car was headed for the drink.
But it never happened, and by the time this sunset came, I had come to almost welcome the pistol shot sounds coming now and then from the ice.
All the same, ice is not my home, or even my home away from home. I would much rather be wading in the water or standing beside it.
But I am learning to find my comfort zone within it.