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Woods, water & worse/Jim Junttila

There's no business like snow business

December 18, 2009
By Jim Junttila

"True Yoopers don't give a hoot about things they can't do anything about," Winter Solstice said proudly. "Especially snow and cold."

In spite of frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall the past couple of weeks, we don't whine about winter. We will sip a little wine to celebrate it, however.

"Call it watching ice form through rose' colored glasses," Winter added. "A return to freezing wouldn't be too shabby as long as it doesn't screw up the ski hills and snowmobile trails. The least we can do is keep our recreational and economic priorities straight."

No matter what happens at the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Yoopers are among the few people in the world who remain steadfastly in favor of global warming. Bare ground and liquid water seem long ago and far away.

Look at a Keweenaw snowmobile trail map and you're looking at our arteries. Snowmobilers and skiers are our lifeblood. The snowmobile trails were strategically designed to run from bar to bar.

Yoopers are into Nordic sports like skiing, skating and ice fishing, and don't take winter lying down.

"Except when you're flat on your back making snow angels," said Paris Hiltunen, demonstrating her technique. "When you grow up running outa the sauna and jumping in the lake, you're not afraid of a little cold. I'm pretty darn good at it now."

None of the WWW correspondents shy away from cold and snow and are happy to share their knowledge, experience and craft-improvement tips and techniques for staying warm if they like you.

"The Eskimos like rubbing noses," said Sarah Palinen.

We don't bat an eye at winter storms either. You've never heard of a hockey game being cancelled on account of ice, have you? The Mosinee Papermakers drove to Calumet in a whiteout blizzard to play a two-game series with the Wolves last weekend. And the Colosseum is as cold as you can get indoors.

When it's minus-7 for the low and 4 above for the high, the teens start feeling pretty cozy. I fantasize what life would be like if it warmed all the way up to freezing, a lousy 32 degrees we can rub together with our own 98.6, hoping to generate some kinda heat.

"Bear in mind, this early abundance and bounty is all pre-winter," said Winter Solstice, who doesn't come until Monday. "With about 60 inches already, a good 20-inch base and fresh snow arriving daily, we've got a pretty good yump on it," said Heikki Lunta, pointing out that area ski hills, XC and snowmobile trails are groomed, tracked and excellent, just the way we like 'em.

For up-to-date snowfall reports and trail conditions, visit,,,, or Better yet, hop on your sled or go ski for yourself.

I watched the Keweenaw Waterway freeze over up close at precisely 9 p.m., Dec. 12 from the warmth and safety of the Copper Island Beach Club, ground zero for first ice downtown. The glow of the neon parrot and palm tree reflected bank to bank, unbroken by open water. I cast a trolling spoon out there to make sure and it stayed on top.

"She froze over on Dec. 5 last year," said Tom Rozich, who keeps tracka ice coming and going.

Watching ice freeze is an ancient Nordic ritual often compared to watching paint dry and grass grow. For real excitement, try ice fishing.

WW&W's Highest Snowbank Before Winter Even Starts Award goes to Randy's Sports Bar, on 7th Street backa Carmelita's and the Post Office. Part of the fabled Calumet Glacier, the mountainous snowbank has a giant maple poking out the top. It's a dormant snow dome, but you might wanna watch it from across the street, just to be on the safe side. All the peanut shells they sweep outa Randy's onto the sidewalk get tromped on and melt the ice and snow, biodegrading in the process, and providing sure-footed traction and one of the few bare spots in town. Seems pretty green to me.

Did you hear about the doctor who, when asked if we had anything to worry about with the H1N1 virus going pandemic, replied "when pigs fly."

The next thing you knew, swine flu.

That's it for WW&W this year. Since the DMG doesn't publish the next two Fridays, I'm off the hook. Best fishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. I'll see you back here next year.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at, and is once again conducting volunteer venison taste testing. A known makara specialist, he is willing to taste test anything from burgers to backstraps and will come to your place to do it.



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