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No such thing as inclement weather

I grew up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

There was a chain of lakes that meandered through southern Minnesota. My father had the only grocery store in the very small town called East Chain, built on the lake called East Chain.

What fun the lake provided in every season. I loved feeling the wind on my back as I skated as far down the lake as I could. We shoveled snow off the ice to make a hockey rink. We groomed our hills for toboggan runs. Snowmen and snow forts abounded.

Mothers would gather pieces of heavy woolen overcoats to make snowsuits for their children. No amount of work was too much if we could have fun in the snow. The Norwegians among us proclaimed, "There is no such thing as inclement weather, just improper clothing."

In the winter we put up ice for the grocery to keep meat and produce as fresh as possible. This had to be done when the ice had frozen to the right thickness — 16 inches. The process started by chopping a hole in the ice at the desired spot. Then, with a one-man lumber saw, men created squares on a grid, so that when they finished, they had many squares of floating ice. Using a team of horses, a wagon, a ramp and ropes, they took the ice up the hill to the icehouse, where it was packed between many layers of sawdust. The icehouse was as big as a respectable barn, one story in front and three stories on the lake side. This process took all day, and some of the workers got free ice in the summer.

Minnesota winters bring fish houses — little houses made of scrap lumber scattered around the lake to shelter the fishermen. You may have seen them in the movie “Dirty Old Men” with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.

Over the years these houses evolved from bare ice floors to places with carpeting, furniture, cushions, camp stoves and TVs. No one would want to miss a Vikings game or a prize fish. Some of these houses did not get taken down at the right time in the spring. It was always kind of an "I told you so joke" when a house would fall into the lake. It is all part of the fun of a Minnesota winter.

Fae Linn lives in Ashland.

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