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I’ve heard complaints that winter is too long and there is nothing to do till spring, but for some reason I haven’t slowed down since I finished getting in my winter’s wood last June. Fishing and roaming the woods took up most of the summer (well, there was that deck-building project that ate up a weekend or two!), and by mid-August it was already time to think about bear hunting season. My first, most vivid reminder was a visit to the bee hives by a bear the night before the season opened! We never saw that bruin again but that little show kept us in the woods till the end of September, when it was time to get ready for the archery season on deer. Plus, there were more opportunities to hunt bears, and by the time I got around to putting all the associated toys away it was time to pack up for deer season, which for me ran pretty much every day from October 1 through mid-December. And then, I realized that the grouse and rabbit seasons were still open, which kept me occupied through the end of the year, and now I’m reminded that the rabbit season continues through March and, if I want to travel, I can still hunt deer in states as far away as Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. I’m not going to go there, just sayin’!
Besides, as bored as some people are this winter I can’t seem to get everything done that I want to do. I have been out on my snowshoes quite a bit thanks to the two feet of snow we had prior to the recent thaw, but I noticed coming in every day that my cross-country skis are still on the porch where I left them last (non) winter. Gotta make time for that as well.
Meanwhile, I’ve been busy fixing things and ordering gear for next year’s fishing, trapping and hunting seasons. When one spends a great deal of time doing anything the related equipment takes a beating. I was amazed to find that I’d completely worn out a pair of rubber boots plus my trusty Krocs, which I wear everywhere but in the shower and to bed. Last week when I skated down the mailbox with them I decided it was time to replace them. It just happened that there was a big sale going on so I bought new knee-highs and Krocs for what I paid for one pair a year ago. Maybe I should have bought two of each!
While sifting through my gun rack for the ideal coyote rifle I was reminded that I hadn’t fired my (four) muzzleloaders. Shooting one means cleaning one, so there went an afternoon. Now I don’t have to worry about them till next season rolls around.
While bringing in the day’s firewood during the thaw I was reminded (by water dripping down my neck) that it was time for a new rain jacket. That, of course, led to a quick inventory of my other outdoor clothing. I was shocked to find that I’d also need new gloves, wool pants and suspenders – my old ones had gone on one too many trip into the woods. I remember what happened to the suspenders; I got snagged on a spruce limb and kept going, thinking it was just a small one and would break off. Not exactly! I walked, the suspenders snapped and that was that - $20 down the drain. I tried sewing them back together (which took up most of a wintry morning) but elastic doesn’t pair well with fishing line used as thread. Back to the store I went!
Digging out the fishing line reminded me that trout season is just weeks away now and I had not even looked at my fishing gear since last July. Maybe that’s why it took so long to find my “thread.” That little journey into the dark recesses of my closet resulted in another winter’s day spent sorting through the mess, repairing what I could and making another list for the sporting goods store. There’s time, of course, to worry about spring fishing but if April comes as fast as November went by I will be late again!
While some folks are curled up in a dismal ball waiting for longer, sunnier days to arrive, I have my pile of bills, receipts and W-2s staring at me, a friendly reminder that I’d better start thinking about paperwork before I think too hard about fishing. I rarely get a refund so I don’t rush to get my taxes done before April (14th or so). It’s not a job I enjoy or look forward to, but it’s on the list of must-dos . . . sort of!
One good thing about starting any kind of winter project is that I can look out my office window and decide, well heck, it’s nice out, and I should go for a walk in the woods. For some reason I can talk myself out of doing most any chore, even a pleasant one, but if the woods look the least bit inviting I accept the offer and off I go, leaky boots or not.
The average stroll in the hinterlands will take me two or three hours, more if I know I have important work to do at home. I’m not much for a quick hike around the pasture; I’ll see something interesting in the snow or hear an owl, turkey or raven and decide to see what’s going on. Usually, it’s nothing, but how will I know unless I go?
Then, of course, if I’m way out there after a strenuous trek in slushy snow, I must get my stove out and have a cup of tea while I rest up for the return trip home. Next thing I know the day begins to wane and I need to head on back home, where I rest for a while, have more tea and think of what other practical projects I should have been doing.
Nothing to do with winter? I wish!
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