For years Steve has said that he chooses to go ice fishing so that he can "put food on the table," and he also says something about this activity being "manly."
This year he actually was "manly" and brought home a quart-size Baggie full of fish for half of the table.
Luckily for me, on the night he chose to have it for supper, neither Joey and I had already eaten our supper.
"Honey, I am going to need you to teach me how to fry fish," he said, all sweet and stuff.
That's like asking me to pretty much fry the fish on my own. I really don't like to cook when someone else is in my kitchen trying to cook at the same time.
It's a timing thing. Certain things have to be prepared at certain times, so all the food is hot when it's set on the table. Too many chefs in the kitchen means they are falling all over each other and just getting in the way.
Anyway, Steve spent four days in the small cramped quarters of a fish house with my dad, brother, two brothers-in-law and a family friend.
I will never see the glory of spending that much time in an ice house surrounded by family members.
I mean, when I think about spending four days in a fish house with my mother, sisters and sister-in-law I get chills down my spine.
And it's not from the cold. Sorry girls, but it wouldn't be pretty.
Steve says they wile away the time by playing cards and visiting. I thought there was an unwritten rule about not having beer before noon. Although Steve never said he was consuming intoxicating beverages when I talked to him over the phone, it sure sounded like they were having more fun than usual.
According to Steve, there are very simple ways to keep a person occupied through the hours.
"The fish cam really keeps the days interesting," Steve says.
Ooh, sign me up for watching the fish cam!
Eight hours of watching fish looking at the lure you have dangling in front of their noses really doesn't interest me that much.
"Hey Joey, you know what I saw?" Steve asked.
"What?" Joey responded.
Steve then proceeded to tell and physically show us how a Northern came up to the fish camera and started gnawing it. If the Northern's mouth was as big as Steve's animated hand made it look, it had to be a huge fish.
But then again, men tend to exaggerated a bit, when it comes to the size of hunted prey, and God only knows how much time they wasted watching a real fish try to play tag with a plastic decoy. I have come to the conclusion that fish are stupid.
The men, well, I can't say what I think of their antics. It's not politically correct.
Each year the guys all have to bring a specified meal for the weekend. It's an event that even requires meal planning.
I think I am the only wife that doesn't spend the time making the meal for her husband to take with to feed the "hunters and gatherers." I take that back, I don't think my sister-in-law makes my brothers food to take up there either.
My older sister spoils the guys with homemade soup. My mother made special Valentine's Day cookies. My brother took a bunch of his homemade sauerkraut and Steve made his version of Sloppy Joes.
Upon Steve's return Tuesday afternoon, I found a huge container of leftover Sloppy Joes.
"We didn't eat any of the sauerkraut either," Steve said, "but the cupcakes are all gone!"
I may chide Steve for spending a long weekend with the guys talking trash, emitting gases and losing money playing hours of sheephead, but he thoroughly enjoys getting away for a few days.
"I think I need to go again this weekend," he lipped off.
Here on the farm, we do our part here to help him enjoy his time away. Actually, Mitch our herdsman does more than his share to keep things running smoothly and that's not always so easy.
When something goes wrong here, I have told Joey and Russell that they cannot call Dad and let him know of the incident. Mitch just knows not to call. Back when I was the one keeping the farm running, I didn't follow that plan. One year, before the fishing group left New Ulm, I was on the phone giving Steve heck for neglecting to close a gate.
This year, we only had one major incident, and Steve didn't find out about it until his return, which is exactly how it should be.
The incident wasn't that bad, and the barn door is repairable.
It's good for Steve to disappear for a few days every year. He needs to get away to appreciate all the hard work he does here on the farm. He needs to get away to watch fish on the "fish cam" and eat cupcakes all weekend.
He even admits this himself, "I don't know how I can leave the farm and do absolutely nothing, but when I get home I feel like I always have to be working."
He just needs to have a beer before noon and eat cupcakes, then he'll figure out how to be lazy at home!
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