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 a supper.
Luckily for me, on the night he chose to prepare fillet d perch, 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 the soup gets cold.
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. Does the word insanity mean anything to you?
Steve says they wile away the time by have a few beers, playing cards and visiting. I thought there was an unwritten rule about not consuming beer before noon. Although Steve never said he was not drinking 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 and sounds as exciting as watching bread rise.
"Hey Joey, you know what I saw?" Steve asked while telling of his "fishing" adventure.
"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 quite possibly a world record.
But then again, men tend to exaggerate a bit when it comes to the size of hunted prey and God only knows how much time they wasted watching real fish play tag with a plastic decoy instead of eating it.
And I can only guess how many beers they had consumed by that time.
Since our men have such difficulty bringing in supper from the depths of great Minnesota lakes, they each have to prepare a meal. Thank God for progress, because if we ate only fish I wouldn't exist at this time.
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."
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, eating very unhealthy food 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 laughed.
Here on the farm, we do our part here to help him enjoy his time away.
When something goes wrong here, I have told Joey and Russell that they cannot call Dad. Back when I was the one keeping the farm running, I didn't follow that plan. One year, before the fishing group even left New Ulm, I was on the phone giving Steve heck for neglecting to close a gate.
This year, we 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 comes back a new man.