YOU CAN’T FOOL Mother Nature. You’d better not try fooling around with her, either.

Try that and you’ll find yourself shoveling a foot of snow every day for a week. Mother Nature doesn’t like to be told that winter is on the downhill slide. She doesn’t care for idle thoughts of a premature spring. She laughs at those who have thought to doubt her prowess when it comes to proper weather for proper seasons.

Take Jimmy the Groundhog, for instance, and you’ve got an entirely different critter, no pun intended. Jimmy is a fake. He is as bad as all the TV weathermen who most of the time can’t accurately forecast two hours ahead, much less two days or two weeks; no offense mister and missus weathermans.

On Groundhog Day, Jimmy said there would be six more weeks of winter and we here in the north country, we who know better, scoffed at his prediction. We know that six more weeks of winter from the second of February, is nothing more than a pipe dream.

We know that, most often, our winter will run until at least mid-April and sometimes, into May. Shoot, there was one year I remember when it didn’t quit snowing until the Fourth of July. Honest Abe, it really did snow a few flakes on that venerable day once upon a time. I was witness to it.

It doesn’t take too long of a memory to remember years in the mid-’90s, when we were ice fishing on opening day of open-water fishing season. They were even running snowmobiles and ATVs across many of our North Woods lakes during one opener. That year found me still ice fishing the second week of the season, although some of our small lakes had opened up by then.

Back in another lifetime, when I was a newspaper editor and sports/outdoor writer for another newspaper, I took a picture of my dad one opening day, in the early ’80s, while he ice fished on Plum Lake. During his opening morning expedition, he landed two walleyes, a 5-pound northern pike and a 40-inch muskie, which was released. The picture I took that morning ran in the Milwaukee Journal outdoor section the next week.

Now that we have established that Mother Nature will allow winter to run its course, no matter how long and crooked a course that may be, I will introduce evidence marked as exhibits A, B and C to confirm my argument that no one should ever fool with or try to fool Mother Nature.

Exhibit A: There was a day back in the early ’80s, when a goodly bunch of us gathered at the top of Suicide Hill at Razorback Ridges ski trails for a mid-March “Farewell to Winter” party.

It was a sunny day. The temperature warmed well into the 50s, much warmer than the Milwaukee canned pop many partygoers were enjoying. Most of the frolickers were dressed in nylon windbreakers, light pants and even Bermuda shorts. 

One enthusiast was in his Hawaiian mode, sporting a brightly colored short-sleeved shirt with shorts to match. He was immortalized, along with his wife and two of my then-coworkers at the newspaper in a photo the Milwaukee Journal also bought from me, running it in full color.

We had a great time that sunny, summer afternoon in March, only to be reminded a week later it was still winter, when we got nearly another foot of snow and several days with mornings well below zero. Mother Nature had the last laugh.

Exhibit B: For several years, I was the director of the World’s Championship Swimsuit Cross-Country Ski Race held at Razorback Ridges. We were lucky most years to hit a March day that got up at least into the high 20s, some even 30s or 40s, with sun. But we got too cocky with our luck.

One year, after a great photo-op race of bikini-clad women and some not-so-desirable photo ops of grown men in Speedos, who never should have heard of such attire, I decided to add a hot tub party as an after-race event. The next year, we had a week of high 30s and sunshine leading up to the event, only to awaken race day to a full blast blizzard with winds gusting up to 40 mph or something like that. Still, a fair number of diehards showed up for the race, along with the Channel 12 news crew.

When no one was brave enough to strip down to a swimsuit, the race was abruptly canceled though the hot tub party went on, for some, until the wee hours of the next morning bolstered, as you might guess, by plentiful dollops of Milwaukee canned pop.

Finally, Exhibit C: When my son was 5 years old, he and I were excitedly awaiting the opening day of trout fishing. The day before was bright, sunny and in the 60s. Old Johnny, the johnboat, had a fresh coat of paint and daubs of liquid aluminum to plug up its plentiful leaks. Rods, reels, trout net and the rest were all strewn about the house.

We went to bed with sugar plums in our heads or at least brook trout were in there somewhere, only to awaken the next morning to 28 degrees and 6 inches of fresh snow on the ground.

So much for opening morning. All was not lost as temperatures in the afternoon climbed near 40, and Brooks caught a limit of trout while I manned the oars and net.

All this goes to show that just because Jimmy said there would only be six weeks of winter Feb. 2, he wasn’t talking about northern Wisconsin. 

Mother Nature tells us how much winter is left and as usual, she will take her own sweet time doing so.