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It's making ice

Agriculture.com Staff 12/04/2007 @ 9:43am

We Americans are continually exposed to a chemical substance called dihydro-monoxide, a lethal compound that really ought to be banned.

Dihydro-monoxide has caused innumerable deaths over the course of human history. It has been linked to global warming and is a component of acid rain.

Below a certain temperature, dihydro-monoxide congeals into a matrix of solid crystals. These crystals have been the root cause of untold suffering. Certain nefarious individuals have actually been known to gather crystalized dihydro-monoxide and use it to construct weapons of guerilla warfare.

Yes, the ice and snow season is here once again.

While the colder weather may invoke gloom and doom in many people, there are some who actually look forward to this time of the year. These twisted individuals can be identified by the three small words they gleefully utter when the weather turns cold: "It's making ice!"

These persons are commonly known as ice fishermen (or fisherwomen). The words "ice" and "fishing" both put me off; together, they spell discomfort and disaster. This is because I've never had much luck with fishing, and my only ice fishing expedition was a total bust.

I was a teenager and we were in the depths of a long, cold winter. One day my Grandpa Nelson came over to our farm and told me that there would be an ice fishing tournament the next weekend at Lake Sinai. Would I like to go?

Being young and gullible, I immediately said yes.

The only thing I knew about ice fishing is that it involved making a hole in the ice. It seemed to me that the most efficient way to make said hole would be with a spud bar, so I put ours to the grinder and honed its business end to a chisel edge.

On the day of the tournament, I donned almost every garment I owned and went over to Grandpa's place. "You drive," said Grandpa, gesturing at his old Ford Fairlane. I was only too happy to comply.

That is, until we reached the edge of Lake Sinai. I stopped at the shore and wondered: if we go through the ice, how could I, an avowed non-swimmer, hope to survive? And even if I did, wouldn't Dad just kill me later for being so stupid as to leave our spud bar in the trunk of a submerged car?

I slowly eased the Ford onto the ice, emboldened by the sight of several dozen cars parked at the approximate center of the lake. Grandpa seemed not the least bit nervous.

Arriving at a likely fishing spot -- a good bit away from the herd -- I climbed out of the car and commenced to hacking a hole. The crystalized dihydro-monoxide retaliated by spitting millions of tiny projectiles back at my face. The ice-induced blemishes soon outnumbered my many zits.

Half an hour of herculean effort produced an eight-inch hole that was about two feet deep. I paused to catch my breath and consult with my older and wiser passenger.

When Grandpa rolled down the window of his idling car, I noticed that it was toasty warm inside and also that it smelled of brandy. Upon hearing my progress report, he grinned, "You're about halfway there. I heard that the ice is four foot thick!"

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