Reflections (winter 2018)

As this year comes to close, we all tend to gather with family and reflect on that past year and hopefully make plans for the coming year. The conversation trends about all the fun we had last summer, because in the fall, we tend to be putting things away and preparing for the winter. Besides, it’s more fun to talk about warm times on a cold night. The summer tends to be busy with everyone buzzing around with yard and garden duties, lazy days at the beach and camping at your favorite lake/ river/ mountain/ campground. Those lazy, hazy summer days are now long gone, but not forgotten. We all (at least Kris and I) have many fond memories of sipping a cold drink on our porch last July with the sweat running off our noses. Boy, it was HOT, at least 90 degrees! That prompted us to install ceiling fans on our porch, a project that we had thought about for years, but I always put it off. “Yoopers don’t have ceiling fans on their porches, that’s what box fans are for” I would often say. It must have been a moment of weakness; that and ceiling fans on sale for 90% off, that soon had me mounting a brace of ceiling fans on our porch. I must say, they do add a touch of class and tend to keep the skeeters away on a hot summer night! We will see if it keeps the robins from nesting in the porch rafters next spring. I don’t have anything against robins, and I do enjoy seeing the hatchlings grow to fledglings, but the birds tend to make a mess on the porch. Not only under the nest, but all on the rails and everywhere. I think birds have a hard time taking off for flight without ‘lightening the load’ on take-off. Another hot weather July project we tackled was a backyard swimming pool. Kris would often ask “Can’t you just imagine a built-in pool in the back yard with a deck all the way around? Wouldn’t THAT be fun?” I would again counter with “Yoopers don’t have enough warm weather for a big ol’ built in pool, or even an above ground pool for that matter.” Kris was starting to think that all old Finnlander Yoopers were scrooges, no fun at all. After two weeks of hot weather, I caved. “Okay” I said, “order the pool”. I still wasn’t about to dig a hole and build a deck, but we did order one of those big blue bladders with the inflatable ring around the top. Another week of 90-degree weather passed before we had a bulky cardboard box with our pool! We had it unfolded and ready for water in less than 2 hours, we had done the prep work of leveling the yard while waiting for the freight delivery. The darn thing was big enough, it held more than 4000 gallons! Now I keep a couple of garden spigots hooked up to my well water, but basically my house is plumbed to ‘city’ water. We trained one hose from each source to the pool to hasten the filling process, and it still took nearly 30 hours to fill. That pool full of crystal-clear water in a big blue bladder looked sooo inviting on the 90-degree afternoon on the day it filled. Now I’m not going to tell you that a body cannot enjoy a pool full of 46-degree water on a 90-degree day, but I will tell you that a body won’t enjoy said water for more that a few seconds before screaming “BWAAAAGH” and scrambling for the ladder in a hasty retreat. Now, how to heat the water? We have already had 3 weeks of 90-degree temps. How long can this weather last? Can we depend on just the sun? We did get a ‘solar’ cover for the pool, it’s supposed to capture the heat of the sun and warm the water, and it did warm the water, but only the top 3 inches of it. The lower 37 inches seemed to be as chilly as the Carp river in Smelt season. Then I spied my fully functioning hot tub only 20 feet away. There MUST be some way of harnessing the heat of that 104-degree water and warm our new swimming pool. I scrounged up a working submersible pump and 100 feet of garden hose. I opened the hot tub and threw in most of the hose, leaving just enough to reach the sump pump in the bottom of the pool. I pumped the cool pool water through the hose, warming as it travels through the hot tub water, then back to the pool. Pretty smart, eh? Except that it worked only marginally well. It seems the rubber hose has some pretty good insulating qualities and the water really didn’t warm that much. Aha! I thought… COPPER! Except that copper = $$$. I shopped around and asked questions. Three quarter inch? Ouch, that really stings the wallet. Five eights? Marginally better. Half inch seemed to be the best choice, the most affordable without throttling the pump too badly. So off I go back to build a better pool heater with one hundred feet of copper pipe and a couple of garden hose adapters. I threw that roll of copper in the hot tub and turned on the pump. Wow, the water out the hose was instantly much warmer! This redneck Yooper pool heater was really working! It worked so well that the temperature of the hot tub plummeted, and the 8000-watt heater was running constantly! That was okay though, because in a few short days that 4000-gallon pool was up to 80 degrees and usable! I learned a lot about swimming pools last summer; the chemical balance, filter maintenance, skimming the bugs and leaves, and how much electricity it can take to heat a pool with your hot tub! Yup, it’s a commitment, but just another labor of love. It’s what you gotta do if you want a pool. Or you could go over to the High School Pool, its open for open swim several days a week, no skimming, no heating, just $4.50 a head to swim… very affordable. AND it’s open year around. The Rudyard School Pool is one of Rudyard’s forgotten gems. Several schools in the area have closed their pools, but we are VERY fortunate that ours is constantly being updated and managed by a very active group of interested individuals. There is adult lap swim in the morning, water exercise in the evening, several sessions of open swim every week to do whatever. In the past there has been SCUBA lessons and Kayak lessons. Swimming lessons for all ages is offered every summer. If you need an idea for a New Year resolution, it may have something to do with the pool! (It’s even open for private parties) Another respite from winter cabin fever can be found at the Rudyard School Public Library. It IS a Public Library and the public is welcome anytime the library is open, even during the school day. Stop by and browse, you may be surprised at what you find if you haven’t been there in a while. There are more than just books. If you want to get outdoors more this season, I keep the cross-country ski trails open and groomed at both the School Farm (5 miles north of Rudyard) and at the Pine Bowl Pathway in Kinross (M-80, east of Kincheloe) I am the volunteer groomer for both the Rudyard Lions Club (School Farm) and the MI-DNR (Pine Bowl) There is ample parking at both locations, the trails are groomed most Fridays and are well marked. Snow shoeing is encouraged at both locations, but please, do not walk in the ski tracks! And Finally, if you want to make a difference to your community in the future, please consider being one of the “50 People Who Care”. The Rudyard Area Community Foundation need 50 People Who Care. People who are willing to commit to $20 each month to the Community Foundation. It is the mission of RACF to engage in funds for scholarships for graduating seniors of Rudyard High School. And if you really want to be involved, there is a vacant board seat. Call me for more information. We are sending this letter in liew of Christmas cards this year. We hope you enjoy it!
Merry Christmas from Tom & Kris Piippo and the Crew at Tri-County Motors

Written by tompiippo

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