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Vernal Equinoxing to the extreme/Woods, water & worse

March 25, 2011
By Jim Junttila

"Winter's on her last legs," an Equinox reveler said insensitively, not knowing she was standing right next to him. He was right, the end is near.

"You wish you had legs like these," WW&W meteorologist Winter Solstice replied, whipping open her full length mink coat to reveal her official Equinox bikini. "My legs and Sorels got me here, so I guess you could say they go all the way to Copper Harbor." She and Verna were warming up for their eagerly-anticipated snow angels performance and polar plunge, part of the fun, exciting Equinox festivities people come from far and near to see.

Meanwhile out on Lake Fanny Hooe, WW&W wildlife correspondent and ice fishinista Paris Hiltunen was drawing a crowd as she skated a perfect circle, drilling strategically-spaced holes in a jiffy with her Jiffy, creating a circular dotted line that a rowdy crowda enchanted revelers yumped up and down on chanting "Ver-na! Ver-na! Ver-na!" until the 8-inch ice broke through and they all took the ceremonial polar plunge to welcome Spring.

"People who say we're exhibitionists wish they looked as good as Verna and I do in bikinis," Winter said, boldly performing their signature bikini snow angels with Paris. "Some say it's more symbolism than substance," she added, enjoying her swan song, "I think we've got both." The celestial magnitude of the Equinox was enhanced by a full moon.

Not just any full moon, but a Supermoon at perigee, rose to meet and greet Verna and say sayonara to Winter. At its closest orbit to earth in 18 years, just 221,566 miles away, the monster moon appeared 20 percent brighter and 15 percent bigger. While supermoons have been linked to floods and earthquakes in the past, this one created a seiche and record tide, triggering one of the hottest splake megabites ever to hit Copper Harbor. A bit of hyperbole, perhaps, but WW&W music correspondents Willie Nelsonen and Jon Bon Joki entertained the crowd with the CCR classic "Bad Moon Rising."

For more than 50 years, Copper Harbor,, has packed 'em in for the Verna Equinox Show. Sailors and revelers from Duluth to the Soo ply Lake Superior to get here. Yachts and seaplanes from the Canadian Soo and Thunder Bay lend a gala international flair, helping the historic hamlet create the illusion of wealth without, arrgh you ready for this, attracting the pirates of the Keweenaw.

"The whole shindig was equinoxingly well-choreographed if I do say so myself," Verna said modestly, "Anybody can have family values, I'm into production values. We're keepin' it classy; a little science, a little fiction, a touch of biology and meteorology, and boom!"

The harbor was teeming with Verna's Equinox Eve splake, the bite was hot, and everybody was hookin' up with fish so fresh they needed to be slapped. Davy Lasanen jigged up a couple of nice, meaty 21-inchers in 10 feeta water on a Swedish Pimple tipped with cutbait. A half dozen ice tents spread out across the diminishing icescape being nibbled and melted away by the lapping water as they fished.

The only solid ice left was around the marina, still 8-16 inches thick with pressure cracks radiating out from around the docks like the veins on the backa your hands. It snapped, crackled and popped like Rice Krispies on steroids, punctuated with loud creaks, crunches and gurgles. Mercurial air bubbles skittered, scurried and burped beneath the ice when you walked.

Once again, Captain Fred Funkey, Fred's Charters, 289-4849, made the annual Verna Equinox Cruise aboard the Equinox, his classic 41-foot Chris Craft Roamer named after her.

"It was invigorating cruising all the way to the lighthouse and back up on the flybridge in 40-degree sunshine with the wind in your hair," Verna gushed. "It was like WOW, wide open water!" It felt darn good to cast for the first time all winter, and trolling was a challenge with all the float ice, but we picked up enough splake and a couple of stray steelhead for Verna's Equinox fish fry.

I'd be surprised if there's any semi-safe ice left on the harbor, and wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole myself, but call Gas Lite General Store, 289-4652, for ice conditions and Spring fishing report.

This column is a fictional accounting of a non-existent event, but a lotta wistful, wishful thinking went into it, and in spite of my best efforts to make it fact-free, it still contains a couple things that actually happened, and I challenge the Copper Harbor Improvement Association to make it all come true.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 no matter where he is at



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