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Marilyn Hagerty: Sliding into winter

Dear Sandy,

You folks down in Tucson better open up the city gates and run for the desert. There are droves of northerners heading your way.

I think they started gassing up their trailers and buying airplane tickets to Mesa on Saturday morning. That's when our first wet, slushy, heavy snow fell.

It was white. And it was heavy. And I went over to talk with the river.

"Red," I said. "You are kind of creepy. You slither along down here by Lincoln Park. And you snake your way up to Winnipeg. But I guess Mother Nature knew what she was doing when she put you here. Something has to drain the land. If we go back in history, we find you are the reason Grand Forks is here."

I got back in my car.

I told myself how invigorating it is to have a change of the seasons. I thought of the fun on snowmobiles, sleds and skis. I thought of all the ice skating rinks and the rosy cheeks. I thought of basketball and hockey games.

Then I drove along Reeves Drive with its beautiful houses.

Hiking, painting

I thought of you and Earl Mason settling down in Tucson. How after years as a UND professor he hikes in the mountains. How you continue to do the painting that you taught in the Grand Forks Park District. I love your desert scenes as much as the North Dakota sunsets you have painted.

They used to tell me that stores around Tucson jacked up grocery prices when the northern visitors were around. That's when I visited my late sister, Shirley, every year. Have you noticed that?

Well, whatever. Winter travelers are winter travelers. Some of our people have been slipping away to favorite haunts in Florida.

Check that passport

People planning winter retreats to warmer climates in other countries should check the expiration dates on their passports. Renee Powell who works in the tax office on first floor of the County Office Building says most countries require at least six months validity before a passport expires. Forms are available also at the post office.

She says 2007 was a gateway year because the border initiative went through. It required passports good for 10 years. Many of them are now coming due.

Forms are available at the tax office on the first floor of the county office building, the post office or by going online to travel.state.gov

Meanwhile, I will be sitting here on Cottonwood Street picking away at the computer, going to basketball games with Susie Shaft and finding bridge players here and there.

Best wishes from your friend, Marilyn, on the west bank of the Red River freezing up on its way north.

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