When the Entire Month of December is a Thaw.

A late December hunt

A late December hunt

I’ve been conspicuously absent lately. The holidays and weird weather have conspired to keep Matt and I away from the outdoors.

After a blast of wintry cold in November, December turned out to be almost balmy. Temperatures hung right around the 40F mark for two or three weeks, occasionally dipping down to a daytime high of 32F on the nose, with nights just barely below freezing. It was overcast, frequently with rain, for over two weeks.  But Amber, you say, you basically live in a walk-in freezer for 4-5 months of the year; far be it from you to complain. And typically, I would agree with you. And honestly, I mostly did this month- it made walking to class much more pleasant, and leaving the house is not a prospect that required heavy-duty bundling just to pick up a gallon of milk or what-have-you.

The thing is, the warm weather melted the ice, and made everything else a muddy disaster. I gave up on mopping the floor because of how much the dogs tracked in. I resigned myself to daily sweeping and spot cleaning the worst of it. On Christmas Day, Matt and I attempted to walk back out onto Mud Lake to place traps. Where we walked on a solid 5+ inches of ice two and a half weeks ago was now open water, heavily populated with snow and Canada geese. The geese were out of season, and it’s an incredibly bad idea to walk to the edge of the ice on open water- you can fall in, get hypothermia, and drown.

The most we’ve been able to do is head out for one late season hunt- last Saturday. Temperatures were finally starting to fall back to seasonal. I saw 0 deer, Matt took a long shot on a coyote and missed. No ice fishing, no trapping, barely any hunting. Add that together with more than a couple days taken for an anniversary trip (more on that after the New Year) and holiday trips to visit the family, and we’re rolling doughnuts around these parts. And this, after I’ve signed up to contribute fishing stories to another website.

In further news, I discovered I won’t be going to Europe after all- the security clearance is an intense process, and I didn’t make the cut. I can always try again later, but it would hopefully be for paid employment. This is kind of a bummer, as it would have been an amazing experience. But this way, I’ll end up both saving some money, and be able to chip away at the remaining credit hours required for me to finally graduate. I’m enrolled in two German classes this coming semester- one on Green energy, etc in Germany, and one on the language and culture of the Pennsylvania Dutch (or Amish). This is the first time since the end of 2007 (!) that I will have more than one course on my plate. 2015 will probably be a mad dash towards the completion of my bachelor’s. Two classes this Spring, two in Summer, and two next Fall will put me just about where I need to be to get ‘er done. For reference, I graduated high school & started this project in 2005.

Luckily (?), yesterday’s high was about 20F, and today’s is about 14F. With such chilly daytime highs, and downright frigid lows, we should get some good ice formation this week. Hopefully enough to safely walk out to place some traps as well as chase some fish. We’ll have to remember the drill for shanty stakes as well as the ice cleats because what little snow we had is long gone, and it’s all going to be shiny glare ice.

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6 thoughts on “When the Entire Month of December is a Thaw.

  1. Amber, Too bad about the trip. Are the Amish your only interest in learning German? I am finally healing from the broken clavicle and starting a new blog. There will be a WordPress beginners class in January. I hope this gives me motivation. Happy New Year.

    • I wanted to learn German originally in order to work in either the foreign service or for a multinational company or NGO. I minored in international development to help with that. Now I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do, but it will be better to have a finished degree so I can quit messing with these food service jobs. The Amish are just an interesting subset of German speakers in the US. Plus it will fulfill part of a graduation requirement 🙂

      • Amber, very noble objectives. Considering your love of the outdoors, Matt, and the amount of time you can get outdoors, It seems you might be turning your life inside out.
        My wife has almost 30 years in medical billing, just a step away from becoming a Chief Officer in the company. I tried many years ago to persuade her to move to Northern Wisconsin, Montana or Idaho. It’s just not what she values.
        We have done well for almost 38 years together. But she did what she loved.
        I was the bus driver, landscaper, etc.
        Currently I’m trying again to learn Spanish. Maybe someday I will. I just love the way it sounds.
        Imagine or create opportunities for German fishermen…. Just an idea
        Our very best to you guys.

  2. So the other day, I dropped the pool net into my pool. I jumped in and got it, did some yard work and then changed clothes. I wanted to build a fire that night, but my wife shamed me by asking “Didn’t you swim today? I don’t think we need a fire.” I one day hope to live in cold weather for a season.

    Sorry about your trip falling through. That’s always a bummer. Let me know how your Amish adventures go, I want to go hunting with them some day.

    • We’ll have fire on summer nights, though it’s much more likely to happen in the Fall when there’s a nip in the air. Today’s high is 14, with pretty clear skies it’ll dip down to near 0 tonight. Just yesterday and today would have caused 3 inches of ice to form over the course of the day, since there’s little wind. I don’t mind Winter per se (I did move farther north, after all), but I’m guessing I’ll change my tune once the hereditary arthritis sets in.

      As for the Amish, I’m guessing it will be pretty purely academic 🙂 But who knows, maybe I can make Amish friends- they tend to live in the western parts of Wisconsin, as well as near my grandmother in Missouri. The prof, who is my adviser, specializes in Germanic dialects. specifically, Pennsylvania Dutch and Yiddish. They put these courses on to provide additional material to fill the “advanced” difficulty graduation requirement for however many credit hours. I was looking to see if there was some sort of state agency that dealt with Amish affairs like there is for the Potawatomi and Menominee, but am so far coming up with nothing.

  3. Pingback: Wild Food: Bear Chili & Everybody Loves Leftovers | Hunt/Fish/Play

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