Then & Now
The Happy Medium: “Subject: From icebox to refrigerator.
“Recently I watched the movie ‘Frozen.’ The opening scene showed men cutting ice blocks from a frozen lake. The blocks of ice were dragged out of the water and placed on horse-drawn bobsleds and carried away.
“This scene reminded me of the stories Dad told us about the times he cut ice on the lake and had it brought up to our family icebox.
“Before electricity came to the rural communities, some farmers had an ice house, a slatted structure for storing large blocks of ice. Every winter, the farmers cut ice from a nearby lake using hand saws. Horse-drawn bobsleds hauled the ice to the ice house, where it was covered with sawdust to prevent it from thawing too quickly.
“We had an icebox in the kitchen until the early ’40s, when my parents purchased their first white refrigerator, the Norge. I thought it was at least 10 feet tall. (That’s another story.) It was a little over 5 feet tall. I was 8 or 9.
“One episode Dad liked to retell was of the time he used his two big white horses, King and Bill, to carry the ice blocks back from the lake. The horses were on the lake with their cleated shoes. Even so, Bill lost his footing. With Dad’s directions, King leaned into the harness and pulled the bobsled AND Bill onto higher ground, until Bill could regain his footing. The horses rested a bit; then the load was hauled to the ice house. Another ‘every’ day job well done.
“Maybe today, if we had to accomplish such tasks as harnessing the horses, going to the lake, cutting the ice, loading it on the bobsled, hauling it to the ice house and stacking it there, we wouldn’t have so much time to think about such issues as whether to use this pronoun or that pronoun, for example, in our writings and speeches. You think?”
Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake writes: “My wife and I just got back from a five-day vacation to Door County, Wisconsin. The weather wasn’t the greatest about half of the time that we were there (the first couple of days, it was very windy, which caused some big waves, and it was cold), but on our last night there, I was able to capture some great pictures of the sunset in Egg Harbor.
“I hope that the BB’ers enjoy looking at them.
“If you ever get lost in Egg Harbor and you don’t know which direction to go, they have some signs out on the harbor to help you figure out where you are. Easy-peasy! Clear as mud!”
Our birds, our pets, ourselves
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Who is spreading white, dielectric material on my railing?
“The Good Wife and I moved to our current home some six years ago. Prior to purchasing it, we were amazed to find a swarm of turkey vultures living on the upstairs deck and railing system, as well as on the roof.
“They were annoyed, or appeared to be so, by our presence. They must have thought this was their home and we were the invaders. As we opened one of the sliding doors linking the master-bedroom suite to the upper deck, one of them looked around as if to snarl something obscene at us. The Good Wife was understandably somewhat uncomfortable. The olive-brown railing was splattered white with their feces. This would require some attention. The others sort of just stepped off the railing on which they were perched, and their massive wingspan allowed them to swoop immediately into a glide. They silently slipped away.
“Turkey vultures are lightweight birds for their size. Tip to tip, their wings stretch a good 6 feet, nearly as wide as that of the bald eagles which live nearby. Yet their weight is much less than eagles, so they can aerodynamically soar for extended periods of time with very little effort. If you watch them carefully, you will note that they can readily find thermals, or rising air, so that as they glide forward they actually can gain altitude.
“I do have an FAA Glider rating and recall one time, when giving a ride to our daughter, that three eagles joined us in formation off our wingtip. I’m not sure if they joined us or we joined them, but I’ll never forget them. I have always been amazed that we have an instrument called a variometer, which — similar to an altimeter, which tells the atmospheric altitude — indicates a rate of climb or descent of a sailplane in the air. Experienced sailplane pilots feel this in their bottom through differential pressures pushing on their butt. They literally ‘fly by the seat of their pants.’ Typically the variometer itself whistles as an additional indication, alerting the pilot that he or she has found good lift. But the birds that soar do this naturally. It seems that God’s creation needs no fancy instrumentation and gadgets. And, instead of slabs or boards (ailerons — or elevators, so to speak) that are pushed into the airstream to create aerodynamic forces to maneuver airplanes and sailplanes, soaring birds merely ‘massage’ the air, spreading their feathers or closing them up to fly so gracefully.
“Turkey vultures have been considered omens of death, because they feed on carrion. Yet they don’t make much noise to bother us. Our Weimaraner, Harper, helps to fend them off. As they soar overhead, Harper stands below them barking warnings to keep away from ‘her house.’ Occasionally they come low, and Harper acts as if she could catch one of them.
“After six years, they are still here but avoid landing on the deck as much as they used to. They do perch on the chimneys and roof. We have pretty much learned to coexist. They spend more time in the tall trees of the surrounding woods, and we spend more time in the house. I respect their soaring skills and hope they respect our space as well.”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson writes: “Sitting on hard chairs
“thinking of God and backside —
“Sunday morning church”
OTD from NSP: “The sock that disappeared in the dryer is now the Tupperware lid in the cupboard that does not fit any container you have.”
Know thy implements!
Roxie: “Wednesday at lunch, my much-used plastic fork tried changing itself into a toothpick.
“I decided it was time to quit eating after the second time broke off.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Literary reference?
“‘Lightning Strike,’ local author William Kent Krueger’s latest book, came out recently, and I immediately read it. It goes back in time to a murder that occurred in 1963, when Cork O’Connor, the main character, was 12. So we got to ‘meet’ his family and hear about his paper route.
“One key item in the plot of this book is Four Roses Bourbon, which I don’t remember hearing of before. Then the newest ad for a local grocery chain (Lunds & Byerly’s) came out, and they have a sale on Four Roses Bourbon.
“Coincidence — or a literary reference? Inquiring minds want to know.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede reports: “I’ve noticed some trees are changing leaf color early this year. This one was taken August 15th at the ponds in Ardan Park. I assumed it was also drought-related, as that stressed a lot of plants
more than usual.
“The next three were taken on September 17th near Lake Owasso.
“I found these on September 20.
“And this last one on September 23 — the first day of fall.
“Usually we are waiting further into October around here. I used to travel to the Boundary Waters or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to do fall-color photography the last weekend of September, needing to go farther north to find the colorful leaves that early. This year they are here, and I only need to go a couple of blocks to find the amazing leaf changes nature provides.”
Band Name of the Day: The Four Roses
Website of the Day: Shorpy