Dimich Outdoors

“In a world that is constantly changing” (“How Can I Be Sure,” The Young Rascals, 1967), the joy of building a snowman never does.

Our title, of course, is based on the 1963 song, “Popsicles and Icicles,” by the Murmaids. As a footnote, rock lore tells us “Popsicles and Icicles” was actually the last American No. 1 song before the “British Invasion.”

The song begins, “Popsicles, icicles, baseball and fancy clothes/These are a few of the things he loves/Levis and brown eyes/And wind blowin’ through his hair/These are a part of the boy I love.” The chorus is, “Bright stars and guitars and/Drive-ins on Friday night/These are a few of the things we love.” Although the “drive-ins” are not identified as the movie or food variety, they still symbolize jewels of a gone-by era.

Not so gone by, though, are popsicles and slushies. A slushie, sometimes spelled as a slushy or slushee, is a flavored frozen delight that is still as popular as it was decades ago. The origin of the slushie was the flavoring of ice shavings before electrical refrigeration. They were also known as snow cones, served either in an ice cream wafer-like or paper cone. Interestingly enough, modern baseball still uses the term “snow or ice cream cone” as a reference to a ball barely caught with a good portion of the white still showing.

Popsicles? Well, they really haven’t gone space age, except for maybe the flavors like mango and pineapple. They have also presently taken on new identities what with the “Marvel,” “Star Wars,” “SpongeBob Squarepants” and “Jolly Rancher” monikers. Some popsicle lovers, though, have the same distain for mango and pineapple popsicles as they do for mango or pineapple on pizzas. It’s kind of like Chicago people and ketchup on hot dogs, much to the dismay of the Heinz Corporation. We guess they’ll just have to “dill” with it (Heinz pickles).  

If you have ever heard or still refer to your refrigerator as an “ice box,” the derivation comes from the insulated wooden cabinet-like contraptions that before electric refrigerators housed a block of ice to keep food cool. If you have such an ice box and it is in excellent shape or even refurbished, they can fetch between $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the brand and buyer. In addition, Grand Rapids’ Crystal Lake was/is sometimes called Ice Lake due to the yesteryear cutting there of huge ice blocks to be stored in sawdust for the summer ice boxes.

Speaking of icicles, have them removed if they are too big, there is lots of weight there. Moreover, if you are so inclined to get snow off your roofs, keep in mind often times this endeavor is an accident waiting to happen. When in doubt, “call the guy.” Like the old timers always said, “If you don’t use your head, your whole body will suffer.”

As for snow, we are currently in the top five for the most snowfall in February and edging toward number one. So, what to do? Well, for starters we could do the lemons and lemonade thing and say, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But, in the face of snowbanks the size of moguls, sore backs from shoveling over the mini-mountains past shoveling has created, the agony of snow blowers that won’t start and broken 4-wheeler plows and angling and spear houses surrounded by moats of icy slurry and concrete-like snow drifts, perhaps a more current quote might suffice.

Like most anglers and spearers who have been thigh deep in snow drifts and had your boots filled with slush, we, too, are inclined to punctuate with a big exclamation mark what Charles Schulz’s iconic character, Lucy, said, “Hey all you geniuses who sang let it snow. Are you happy now?” As a side note, this must be where the legendary Sid Hartman got his “genius” references. Okay, we can’t resist it, who can forget Sid chortling cantankerously, “Is that Mike from Fargo? Hang up on him!”

Staying with the “Peanuts” gang, when life seems to be giving us lemons, maybe we should do what the philosophically perceptive Snoopy says as he looks up into a seriously sinister snow-flaked night, “Keep looking up…that’s the secret of life.”

So, as we ponder the ways and means of not only accessing or removing our fish/spear houses or fishing grounds, let’s take a breath and listen to Snoopy. First of all, let’s be happy for our snowmobiling friends and their business-related brethren as our snowpack has beckoned the sledding and visitors that have been missing in dryer years.

Let’s also smile for our skiing community, both downhill and cross country. While we are in the locomotion mode, albeit slower and perhaps more introspective, let’s support our local snowshoe aficionados who finally feel the heft of a snowpack underfoot rather than that of parking lot-like snow. Also for those that ski or snowshoe hoof it in the woods, be aware that a burrowed grouse (to get out of the cold) might just explode at your feet like a frozen lost can of pop on your vehicle’s floor.

In addition, even though the snow and cold might eventually negatively impact our deer herd, be buoyed by the fact more snow hampers predators and until the snow hard-crusts, their take is significantly lowered due to a lack of mobility, and heavy snow actually insulates resting deer like a down comforter warms us. Keep in mind, however, because they now follow the leader and use the same trails to conserve energy, upon seeing a deer on the shoulder of the road, slow down, more are sure to follow.

Although it seems to be eons away, spring is just a warm spell away, so also be buoyed by the fisheries’ facts that more snow aids fish by reducing the possibility of heavy algae blooms and a late ice out aids in the spawning and recruitment of walleyes and their fry. Add to this that the late ice out on Big Winnie last spring scraped many of the dreaded zebra mussels and their veligers (final larva stage) off the rocks, destroying them. The result was less water clarity and great fishing. And for those of you fond of our forests, cheer like no one is watching to the reality that the devastating emerald ash bore larvae were likely killed off during the anomaly of our February cold blast.

Stay positive, safe…and, perhaps reach out to someone who is a shut-in, whose friends and family circle has shrunk. Bring some fried fish, venison sticks or sausage or just yourself for company. Like Charlie Brown tells Linus as Linus is holding his blanket and sucking his thumb and the snow is falling, not in dancing flakes, but in an oppressive thick smother, “Listen, Linus, friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about the friend that comes and stands by your side in bad times.”

Build a snowman, create ice angels or slide like otters on a snow-packed hill. Just don’t let a boot full of slush or snow up to your thighs keep you from what Snoopy says as he and Woodstock jump into a pile of raked leaves, “loving the simple things in life.”

 Nik and Rod Dimich are on the pro staffs of Mercury Marine and Ray’s Sport & Marine in Grand Rapids, Minn. Rod is also a pro-staffer for L&M Supply and his radio show “Woods & Water” can be heard each Friday at 5:50 P.M. on KQDS 95, 106.3 on “The Train Wreck’s Drive at Five.” To contact Dimich Outdoors, please email: rdimich@msn.com. Kristin Dimich contributes to this column.

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