COL The curtain's opening

Fall, then winter, are next in our Theater of Seasons

The morning frost on automobile windows and summer leaves and grass is a harbinger of things to come. Fall stands between now and winter but Minnesota's benchmark season is soon here.

Check your furnace, blow the dusty air out of the ducts. There is a morning chill on the kitchen floor that doesn't go well with coffee.

Green is still our dominant outdoor color but not for long. The light frost of Monday will accelerate the change of color in our backdrop as summer's last hold gives way to fall and then to winter.

There is more than a small contingent of Rochester residents who rebel at the word, the mention of winter.


Winter, winter, winter.

It's a season that comes on us from the distance but seldom is unheralded. Like the light and whistle of an approaching train, fall's white frost both warns and announces what's to come.

To those with a dour disposition toward swirling snow, blown high against hedges, winter is something to be suffered. That winter will pass, in five, maybe six months, is the only consolation.

Better, though, let winter's markers be the very foundation of fun. Ice fishing, snowshoeing, a little skate or glide along a freshly groomed cross country trail is as good as it gets in the north country.

Mention Minnesota and winter together and the subject will sooner or later get around to one of our most well-known homegrown industries, the manufacture of snowmobiles. Roseau and Thief River Falls are homes to fun factories. The snowmobiles that come whining out of those cities carry riders across northern trails for hundreds of miles. There are smiles beneath those masks and visors.

Area ski hills have not let the falling mercury go unnoticed, either. Morning lows dropping just below freezing are bobbing near snowmaking temperature. Downhill boarders and skiers in Minnesota do not need to wait for natural snow. Just a little cool weather, and a whale of work, will open up the slopes for alpine carvers and park riders of all skills.

Fall is still firmly in place. Yet, this season of reds, yellows and musty smelling woods is but a transition. Winter snowstorms? To quote President Bush out of context, "Bring 'em on."

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