Last week's column with the Christian Brothers v. Christianity joke struck a responsive chord with ice fishing enthusiasts and readers swinging from both sides of the plate. But don't take my word for it, check out these samples from the WW&W email bag:
"Irreverent but funny," chuckled fans of the column.
"Blasphemous!" groused humorless local fundamentalists who can't take a joke.
Turns out the winter blues, aptly named SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder, is more popular than I thought; a lot more people than I imagined seem to have it to one degree or another. The malaise comes with the territory in the U.P. and other far northern latitudes like Alaska, northa the Arctic Circle in Finland, and other Scandihoovian countries where the sun don't shine during winter.
There are simple, pleasurable things you can do to fight it off; try sunlamps. I light candles, they're burning on my desk day and night while I'm writing. They may not throw much heat or light, but they add a romantic, psychic glow and warmth if you're feeling vaguely discontented and can't put your finger on it.
Nothing works like greenery. I have lotsa house plants in every window so I have to look through green foliage to see the cold, snowy and grey world outside. Getting a whiff of that nostril-twitching earthy smell of Mother Nature whenever I water the plants is pure bonus, an olfactory treat to hold me until I get to Florida where the sun shines bright, the water's in its liquid state and warm, and God's green earth isn't covered with 100-plus inches of snow.
We just topped the 100-inch mark and I don't feel the least bit bummed out, possessive or jealous when Heikki Lunta is unfaithful to us and does a major snow dump on the Northeast, places like New York and Boston for a change. Anybody but us.
"People in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and the Carolinas shoveled 8-12 inches of global warming off their driveways this week," said WW&W meteorologist Al Niemi after Heikki buried the south with a freak blizzard. "It caught 'em with their plows down; it's hard to believe Atlantic Mine has more snowplows than Atlanta."
Getting outside every day is a good way to sack SAD. "Just a short walk works wonders, even if it's cold and snowing," said WW&W physical fitness correspondent Jim Teacher. "If you're feeling shack whacky with full-fledged cabin fever setting in, go skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing or to a hockey game; they're well-lit.
"You know how Calumet hockey fans call the Wolverines 'Wolves' for short?" asked WW&W wildlife correspondent and fan Paris Hiltunen, who dates the team. "That makes them two totally different animals which doesn't make sense," she added. "Cukie hockey makes much more sense; everybody knows it stands for Cukie Coppo, Wolverines coach and Keweenaw hockey icon."
"Did you hear about the recent major improvement at the Calumet Colosseum?" asked WW&W adult beverage correspondent Al Cohol. "At long last, they're finally serving beer at the Wolves games, but you gotta work for it," he cautioned. "You gotta climb a 25-step flight of stairs to get to the mezzanine ballroom, high above the ice, where they serve Labatt Blue and Old Mil Lite at friendly prices, both in stylish Wolves blue cans."
"You work up a thirst by the time you climb that hill, especially in 5-inch heels," said Hiltunen. "But what better way to enjoy a cold beer at a hockey game than out of an ice chest?"
Outdoor hockey fans won't want to miss the 7th Annual Great Lakes Pond Hockey Classic, January 28-30, at Barker's Island, Superior, Wis.. For info visit sahaice.org, or call Mike McCoshen, 715.394.6015.
Except for hockey, winter in the U.P. proceeds at the speed of a glacier.
"So what do you recommend besides Christian Brothers to heat up a cold ice fishing bite?" asked a fishless reader.
I like a small jig and a nervous fathead or sucker minnow, but my favorite go-to lure is our own Yooper-made Swedish Pimple in the crushed ice finishes, Do-Jiggers and Vinglas. I'm also a big fan of jigging Raps, Northland puppet minnows, buckshot rattle spoons and Bro's bugs.
This column has not been hacked or otherwise compromised by Wikileaks and Jim can still be reached 24/7/365 at jjunttila@ chartermi.net.