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Lying in bed last Tuesday night, tossing and turning, unable to sleep and staring at the ceiling, it sure would have helped if I could have gone to my "happy place."
Usually at this time of year, that would mean on some lake, staring down a hole in the ice, waiting for the slightest twitch of my bobber. Man, how I wished for four inches of good clear ice instead of 50 degree winter days.
The reason for my uncomfortable night was the announcement earlier in the day of the sale of The Daily Record, a place I have worked at now for over 40 years, to GateHouse Media.
The sale caught all of us at the newspaper off guard, and though a representative of GateHouse said there was no need to work with one eye looking over your shoulder, at least the old-timers at The Daily Record are wondering how the next few years will unfold.
And while last week's announcement triggered this week's column, it's not really the point that I'm intending to get across. What was pounded home this past week was how important a release like hunting, fishing, hiking, camping or bird watching soothes the soul. It could be sewing, woodworking, weight lifting or a fitness routine. We all have that happy place to escape to.
If the conditions would have been right, I would have been fishing last week. Change is always tough, and the uncertainties at the newspaper caused some of us to worry, some of us to cry, and some of us to buckle up our chin straps and say, "This is going to be fun!"
At this point, I don't know which one of those scenarios I fit into.
Many years ago when my father passed away during a particularly cold December, I escaped to ice fishing to sort things out. I went alone (I know, that's not the smartest thing to do when ice fishing), and at first felt guilty that I was fishing while others were dealing with his death in more traditional ways.
But for me, the tasks of a day on the ice helped ease the pain. The more I fished, the better I felt. I was out fishing for my benefit, not to remember past trips with my dad, because he never took me fishing.
I can still remember walking out on a back bay at Portage Lakes and unpacking my gear. I augered holes, cleaned them of ice, baited hooks, drilled more holes, and caught some fish.
I can't tell you what I brought home from the lake that day, or if we had fish for dinner that night, but I can tell you that ice fishing trip was helpful for me.
The older I get, the more my outdoor trips seem to be just exactly that. Harvesting isn't as important as the moment. The spring flowers now look more beautiful, the mist rising off the water on a cool summer morning is more stunning, and the fall colors in the Adirondacks get prettier and brighter every year.
Don't get me wrong. I still love to chase fish, and believe me, I keep score. There's something about outsmarting a big ole bass that gets my blood flowing. But my happy place also allows me to teach my grand children about the outdoors, brings me together with old high school friends, and has afforded me the opportunity to turn my brothers onto the sport of fishing.
This past week a Facebook friend used the social media outlet to help get him over the death of his best friend of 13 years -- his hunting dog. The memories he shared of the good times they had hunting ducks and geese eased his pain. In that case, he went to his happy place through reminiscing.
This past week, though, I was in need of the real thing.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, usually I can find a way to escape to my happy place -- somewhere on the water.
So please God, give me just a few good inches of ice.
Art Holden can be reached at 330-287-1650 in the mornings, or at firstname.lastname@example.org