Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The BEST Winter Day

Summer is on it's way!

Or, at least it feels like it this past week. Our Minnesota / Wisconsin weather has been unseasonably warm, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't enjoyed every minute. Sunshine and lots of time outdoors has the entire state population exhaling a big sigh of relief.

Alas, summer is most definitely NOT on its way. It's the end of February and there's still many cold (and probably snowy!) weather days left in March and April. Maybe even May ... though, goodness, I hope not.

When my friend Mirjam and I picked a day for her family to join us at the lake cabin for ice fishing, we never would've guessed the weather would be what it was last weekend. The forecast called for temperatures in the low 60's which had Andi and I worried about the condition of the ice. Would we still be able to go fishing at all? Fortunately, the ice was still 14 inches thick on our lake which meant it was safe to walk on and drive the Ranger UTV.

Mirjam, her husband Markus, and their kiddos Elia (3) and Lynn (6 months) arrived early Saturday morning and Andi and Markus quickly got to work drilling holes in the ice. We planned to have a "tip-up party" and set up lines all around the bay in front of our cabin. That way, the kids could run around and play, and everyone would be able to enjoy the warm weather together. Mirjam said she'd envisioned ice fishing as us all huddled together in our fish shack - and we could've done that - but this much more fun with lots of people, and especially with kids.

Right away, the fish started biting which was exciting for our friends to experience. Weather conditions play a huge factor in fishing, and the warm temperatures kept the fish active. "Fish, fish!" the kids would scream as they ran toward each vertical flag waving in the air.

The top layer of the ice was like a pool of water, and the kids were soaking wet in no time. Fortunately, it didn't seem to bother them much. Tory led Elia on an exploration of one of the state-owned islands on the lake, and they all had fun chipping away the ice to discover treasures (aka: leaves and sticks) once frozen in place.

Andi started a bonfire in our yard, and we all gathered around for lunch. I made shredded pork, broccoli slaw and a black bean salad for everyone, and Mirjam brought homemade grissini (Italian breadsticks) and sinfully delicious lemon bars. As we sat around the fire and listened to the kids running around, laughing, and playing "firefighters," we all commented at least a dozen times how wonderful it was to be outdoors. Such a perfect day!

After lunch, we made s'mores and hot chocolate for the kids which is Tory's very favorite thing to do at the cabin. It was absolutely quiet for at least a minute while Tory, Aden and Elia sat in their kiddie chairs and enjoyed their treat.

Andi had the idea to take the kids tubing on the ice, so he pulled out our summer boating tube from under the deck and tied it to the back of the ATV. It seemed like a crazy idea at first, but the kids had SO MUCH FUN, how could I say no? "Faster! Faster!" Elia and Tory screamed between squeals of joy. Fairly certain the neighbors thought we were crazy.

We capped off our day with a fish fry. Nothing better than eating freshly caught fish from your lake! This day will be one we remember for a long time - such an awesome day with friends!

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