When my brother Kevin was a kid, he broke his arm one afternoon while we were throwing rocks at some ducks down by the stock dam north of our farmyard. At first, no one could believe it was broken, and I don't mean just me. I was there with him, his big brother. As I think about it, we probably were throwing dirt clods, not rocks. We didn't have many rocks on that part of the farm, but clods of dirt were everywhere, and some of them were thick and firm. They'd have done some damage if they'd hit something, but the ducks were alert and fairly agile, and we were mostly passing time, anyway.
Nearly 30 years ago, when I worked at the daily newspaper in Pierre, a fellow South Dakota editor engaged me in a conversation about the way to keep people reading newspapers in a world of pictures and audio. The editor, long since retired, was a big and hearty Irishman who loved his craft and the people who practiced it. From my first days with The Associated Press throughout my career as a reporter, he was a mentor in all things newspaper, and a friend in all things, period.
It's the first official weekend of spring, and that means we're about to start South Dakota's real high-school sports season -- track and field. When I was competing for Chamberlain High School half a century ago, we'd finish the basketball season, take a week or so off -- no idea why, that's just the way things went -- and then we'd report for track. On the first day of the season, sometimes the coaches would start things out by seeing just what sort of physical condition we were in.
A number of years ago, a work crew installed a pipeline through our neighborhood. We live on a corner, with grass boulevards between our sidewalk and the street on each side. The trenching crew chose our side of each street to tear up. If I'd been doing the project, I might have only done one side of my property, say the north-south line, and used the opposite side of the east-west street for the other line. That's dividing the misery. On the other hand, doubling up on me probably cut down the number of property owners who complained. I didn't complain about the project, really.
Earlier this month, after a long, cold and snowy winter, the temperature climbed into the 50s, the sun dried the boards of the porch floor and the snow melted and ran in happy little rivers down the gutter and into the storm drain at the corner. My reaction? "Oh, man. Why did this have to happen?" I know. Everywhere I looked people were peeling out of their winter coats, leaving scarves and gloves and insulated boots in their mud rooms and striding down the wet -- but not ice-covered -- sidewalks, smiling at each other and doing the whole "How about this weather, huh?
A friend who still covers the South Dakota Legislature recently wrote that lawmakers are talking about changing a weird procedure called the smoke-out. Bob Mercer, who writes stories for a group of daily newspapers including The Daily Republic, picked up the trail of the story by paying attention to the Legislative Procedure Committee. That's a group of lawmakers responsible for suggesting changes in the way the Legislature does its business.
I just about had a nervous collapse the first time I asked Nancy for a date, and that was half a century before I knew we were going to still be hanging around together. Yup, it's been 50 years since we had our first date back in Chamberlain. March 12, 1961, it was, and for the entire drive over to the Gust house, I was hoping -- sweating bullets and praying fervently, actually -- that Nancy would be ready, standing inside the front door looking through the glass, ready to rush out and down the steps and into the Chevy, so I wouldn't have to walk up, ring the bell and meet her parents. In t
Lyman Garden is a cozy place for a basketball game. Located on the west edge of Presho, the Garden is home to the Lyman Raiders. It lacks the storied parquet floor of the old Boston Garden where the Celtics played, but a couple of generations of central South Dakota basketball players will swear the boards in the Lyman Garden add a couple of inches of spring to their leaps. The Garden hosted South Dakota's amateur basketball tournament last weekend. Nancy and I were there on Saturday evening for a ceremony, but we got to see at least parts of three different games.
My youngest granddaughter, growing in independence, wit and wisdom with each passing day, turned 3 years old a week ago. We see Sage quite often, living an easy 80 minutes away from her Chamberlain home. When there's no reason to go to Chamberlain, we connect on the road at her sisters' school activities. Just a couple of weeks ago, during a break in the action in the Chamberlain girls' district basketball game at Miller, we sat in the bleachers and shared early birthday cupcakes, a nice moment on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday. It isn't enough. Little kids change so quickly.
From the sidewalk near the garage, it didn't look very far from the edge of my snowcovered roof to the vent near the peak. The vent pipe appeared to be covered with snow, and it occurred to me last Saturday afternoon that as long as I was out shoveling, I might as well drag a ladder out of the garage, crawl up on the roof and make sure the vent was venting. "What's the worst that could happen?" I asked myself. It wasn't as if I'd never been on the roof before. We've owned this place for most of four decades. I've scrambled all over the roof doing one chore or another.