Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: Those were indeed the days

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I thoroughly enjoy Diane Boit’s “Those Were The Days” column in this paper, and last week’s publication may not have been noticed by either of my loyal readers but it caught my eye. There was a photo of my dad, and Grandpa Pierce was mentioned for a column he wrote 75 years ago.

Then there was a photo of the 1988 Beach Party we put together for Winder Daze. Karen Sherman came up with the idea to dump a huge truck load of sand on the Community Center’s gym floor and call it a beach. We boxed in the sand, set up a DJ and a bar, took off our shoes and rocked the evening away. It was great fun until we had to clean it up with snow shovels before we went home.

It’s fun to look back and reminisce about life gone by, Diane does a great job researching and reporting on our past, and I’m quite sure that both of my loyal readers would agree with me for once.

So I noticed the beach party photo about the same time Renee figured it might be a good weekend to head out to the shores of Lake Tschida to see how the beaches were faring there. We bagged up some warm clothes, a modicum of imbibement, and headed out Saturday morning.

Ben and Shane went out early Friday so the cabin was warmed up and they were out ice fishing when we got there. The weather cooperated, a slight breeze, sunshine, and 35 above. It was a delightful February day that begged us to be outside.

The neighbors (Helfriches and Buckholtzes) were scooting around the lake on their four wheelers and sleds. The lake was dotted with ice houses and ice fisher people. Renee and I to found a bench in the sun in front of the cabin, sat down, and watched the day go by.

We were basking in the warm sun and it didn’t take long to become snow blind, so we just sat back, closed our eyes, and soaked it in. Both of us remarked that spring was edging itself back into the prairie, and it wouldn’t be long before we could abandon our caves and once again enjoy the outdoors around here.

As the day went by, the boys drilled enuf holes in the ice to make the lake look like Swiss cheese, but to no avail. Even though they both seemed to have bagged a lot of aluminum, by the end of the weekend both of them figured that the lake owed them at least one fish.

When the boys returned I took a spin on the four-wheeler and it was pretty cool to drive across the lake to see whatever there was to see. It’s strange to drive on ice, especially when you’re on a big lake that seemingly goes forever. At one point I wondered if I could drive all the way to Dickinson, but after hitting a few snow drifts that felt like speed bumps it didn’t take long for that thought to pass…

After my cruise I returned to the cabin to find another place in the sun. Renee and I then nestled into another sunlit spot and just sat for a while. It doesn’t take long to realize how silent the prairie really is.  When the wind dies down a deafening quiet engulfs you, and if you listen carefully you can hear the wind coming back long before it actually gets to you.

Both of us remarked about the quiet, it was just us in the world, and we were both grateful to have a place that helps us touch the earth. As the sun began to dip over the horizon the silence was broken by the sounds of four wheelers approaching from the other side of the lake… indicating that cocktail hour had arrived, it was time to go indoors to fix supper and prepare for a long winter’s night nap.

And the next thing you know, just like Diane, I’m back here telling you about something that was, while anxiously hoping that it won’t be long before spring once again envelopes our beloved prairie.

Here’s hoping that you enjoy being wherever you are too…