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"I wish they had a Rose Bowl every day. Ever notice how quiet it is out here on New Year's Day?"
Still, we caught our bluegills. They are greedy and numerous, and I notice now that the Old Man doesn't even look up at the passing of a group of snowmobilers. He's busy baiting his hook or watching the bobber intently for another strike.
My grandmother claimed until her dying day that the very first Sputnik orbiting the earth altered forever the Michigan winter. With all respect to Grandmother, however, it may not have been Sputnik itself but the technology boom it spawned, which in time produced an arsenal of anti-winter weaponry that only makes a Michigan winter seem easier. Space-age fibers, for example, used in the insulation of both people and homes.
At any rate, a northern Michigan winter is much less formidable than those I spent in the pre-Sputnik, pre-express-way, pre-snowmobile days. Certainly there is more to do indoors than there used to be. Especially for the kids. For electronic entertainment, we as kids had a small table radio; we had to hold a hand on it to make it come in louder so that everyone in the room could hear.
These days, in the north woods, the kids who come up for a holiday have a full complement of Saturday morning TV cartoons to entertain them. The Bluegill Hole, which is where I want to take the boys, simply is no match for the Road Runner or the Pink Panther. And then there is Fran Tarkenton (of all people) in a commercial inserted slyly between cartoons, urging them to play electronic football when the cartoons are over. They can sit in a chair and play football with their thumbs.
The boys are Jake, my 11-year-old son, and Darren, my 9-year-old nephew. To them, having a good time at the lake is to watch TV and ride the snowmobile. Like any well-meaning, meddling adult, I am welded into the past and know what is best for them.
We have rules. One concerns electronic football. I've imposed a daylight curfew on that activity. One morning just after Christmas I heard them beep-beeping and arguing in a back bedroom. I burst in like an angry Vince Lombardi.
"All right, you guys, I caught you. You can play that game at night but not during the day."
"Well, what are we supposed to do?"
"Let's go ice fishing," I said.