"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Of bears, winter, fairy tales and "car clumps"

Bears hibernate in winter and maybe they have the right idea. Looking back on the past year, certainly the visit by a bear in Morris was a highlight. Someone decided to call him "Fluffy" and it caught on.
I actually think that "Fluffy" ended up going to that big bear's den in the sky (not to be confused with the old Bear's Den in Johnson, MN - "where the pavement ends and the west begins").
I think someone did a job on Fluffy like what Sarah Palin did to that poor caribou on that reality TV show. Even people who say they appreciate hunting probably are disgusted by seeing a beautiful animal in the remote wild suddenly dispatched by the opportunistic politician.
Marv Levy was an NFL coach who said publicly that he didn't appreciate hunting. Asked to elaborate, he said it was a mismatch. The game are no match for the hunters and all their tools and resources. What satisfaction is to be taken?
Levy emphasized that he didn't mean to be harsh toward hunters. He wasn't campaigning to make any of it illegal. He was just talking in terms of his gut perceptions. He was a very successful coach.
I continue to believe we were told a little fairy tale about "Fluffy." He wandered out of town and was happy ever after?
He "probably went back to where he came from?" Those were the words chosen by our city manager.
A black bear in town would seem to be a pretty serious matter. And in fact it was treated that way by the city manager's listing of agencies who had people on the scene here.
Why were all these professionals involved if the intent in the end was to just let the bear wander off? It would seem like a waste of time for those individuals. I'm assuming that the bear did not in fact wander off, into the night as it were. There would be too many liability issues for one thing.
If this was a domesticated black bear that had gotten loose, perhaps it could have been captured and transported away. And if that happened, there would be no problem with local officials reporting this to the local corporate media and having the story shared.
Dispatching the bear was a problem. He was on Facebook. Daycare kids had reportedly flocked to the scene. Gawkers congregated.
I speculated at the time that this episode would make great fodder for the "Andy of Mayberry" TV show.
If the bear had to be dispatched, I think there would have to be some plausible deniability. Barney Fife - excuse me, Chief Beauregard - would have to be able to go to the local media and tell the story the public could digest. No Sarah Palin with a bolt action rifle.
The bear would come down from the tree or be coaxed. This would happen in the dead of night with the gawkers in bed. The bear would in fact amble a block, or two, or three, but never leave the view of the most concerned officials.
In the meantime, certain other officials, the ones who would later meet with the media, stayed behind, the idea being that what they didn't know wouldn't hurt them. These people could say they never saw the bear being shot. And they'd be right.
There was a prevalent rumor at the time that it was "the DNR's bear." I'm not sure what exactly that meant, but if true, the DNR controlled the final outcome. Meanwhile the local officials could talk about the bear just "leaving town," as if he had just been kicked out of a bar or something.
Oh, it was a fun story. I strongly doubt its accuracy. I think the Sarah Palin-type scenario was almost certainly true.
We are in the dead of winter now. Christmas is just past and New Year's beckons. I'm a little disappointed that our University of Minnesota-Morris is closed for as long as it is. It went stone cold quiet beginning on the weekend before Christmas Eve. And since it's a full fledged semester break, the activity there won't resume shortly after New Year's.
And even when the activity resumes, along comes the three-day weekend for the MLK holiday that quiets the campus again. It's a bit much, in my view, and I'd feel more comfortable seeing a tight little break basically between Christmas and New Year's.
It's a wonderful little campus and it should be buzzing for most of the winter. It shouldn't be in hibernation like a bear.
Lately, we have seen the winter phenomenon of "car clumps" on cars. You know, those ugly mixtures of snow, ice and dirt that collect just behind your car tires, making you want to kick them off.
You never know how hard or soft they might be. You might stub your toe. Sometimes the clumps develop annoyingly close to the tires, seemingly 1/16 of an inch or so. So the potential for contact with the tires is there, when you turn. And this in fact can happen, audibly.
Sometimes you'll see these clumps in parking lots, having been kicked off. How unsightly they are.
Because it's uncertain whether they're hard or soft, you can never assume you can just drive over them. They are truly a part of the winter reality that helps define who us Minnesotans are.
The movie "Fargo" showed the William Macy character frantically applying the scraper to his windshield in a scene. It must have seemed curious to lifelong southerners. The Macy character (the type of car salesman I think we've all come in contact with in our lives) could just as well have been kicking off car clumps.
Groundhog Day is a celebration very symbolic of winter. We learned background of this in the Bill Murray movie of the same name. We learn that winter with all its disadvantages has its vital place in the sequence of our lives. Like hibernation with bears.
At least we know that the groundhog isn't dispatched. Murray would have a hard time doing that anyway, based on his problems with gophers in "Caddyshack." The gophers survived.
I doubt that Fluffy was so fortunate.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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