Every Minnesotan’s got a “fell through the ice” story.

Last night, Rebecca and I met our committment to hit the club on Friday nights. Work out after work, late dinner at home and a rental. I got through my routine and headed upstairs to the locker room, with a quick stop at the gym to watch a three on three game. I had just enough time to hit the whilpool.

I was sharing the facility with an older guy, must have been in his late sixties, a barrel chested man, kind of overwieght. For the sake of the narrative, let’s call him Tubby. As Minnisotans do, we started talking about the weather, which has been unseasonably warm, I think it hit 50 yesterday. It’s more likely to be -20 here at this time of year than 50. Of course this led to global warming and Tubby wasn’t so sure he was buying into that theory. He was speaking of the inherently cyclic nature of the climate and brought up the fact that we’d had a January thaw back in “oh-tree.”


“Yah, oh-tree.” The “yah” is clipped, German, not drawn out like a Norsky. I’m thinking, and understand that I’m riding a major endorfin load, “Oh three, you’re nowhere near that old.” I don’t think I’d ever heard anyone refer to the third year of this century as “oh tree” before.

“I remember because I had some property over in Wisconsin that had a pond on it. I was clearing the snow off it to make a skating rink and just as I made the last pass the tractor went through the ice. In five feet of water.”

“Did you end up leaving it ’til spring?”

“No, I got’er out. I wanted to get a wrecker, but all kinds of fish houses had gone through the ice too. They were chargin’ a thousand dollars to pull them out, and I sure wasn’t gonna pay a thousand (did he say “a towsand?”) dollars to get that old tractor out. But I got it out.”


“It just came to me. I kept thinking about how to get it out and one moring I just woke up and it hit me. I knew it would freeze again so I put posts in by the wheels and jacked it up to the water level, then when it froze over again I just drove her right off.” He included an explanation of the finer points of his technique, but he was vague and I couldn’t visualize how he accomplished this, other than “the bucket” and chains were involved. I was very impressed with his inginuity but even more so with his ability to accomplish something that must have been a hellacious amount of work. I’ve been in similar situations and it’s brutal for a young man.

So the question is, was he pulling my leg?

5 thoughts on “Every Minnesotan’s got a “fell through the ice” story.

  1. I’m still stuck on the oh-tree part. Does he mean 1903?

    My relatives say “tree” for three too. I love to tease them, point at a ficus and say: that is a tree. What are you talking about? 🙂

    I think he must have been pulling your leg. Exaggerating his story a bit perhaps. Then again, I know nothing about tractors or frozen ponds. Enorphin loads however! Ah, the chemistry of well being.


  2. hmmm… And it didn’t all just freeze into one gigantic frozen hunk of steel? I’m not saying that he’s a liar but… wow.

    Keep meaning to ask you. You mentioned something about steriod usage for illness. Have you talked about that here before and I just missed it?

    And the empty nest thing… They leave but they always come back. At least for a while.

  3. I would say yes, otherwise he’d have melted in the whirlpool and it would have been more of a yogurt pool…  ok.. don’t visualize that one. I hadn’t been gross yet today.

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