VIRG FOSS: Keeping up with UND sports while warm in the woods

It was bitterly cold outside the other night at my lake cabin, my reluctance to close it up for the winter now edging into the second week of December.

Virg Foss
Virg Foss portrait

It was bitterly cold outside the other night at my lake cabin, my reluctance to close it up for the winter now edging into the second week of December.

Outside, great pillows of snow adorned the cluster of needles on the pine trees.

It looked to me like a million Peter Cottontails had taken up residence on the branches reaching for the night sky. White puffs, everywhere I looked.

The next day when the wind came up a bit, those pillows of snow came crashing out of the trees in solo dives, as if the sky and the ground were in a snowball fight.

Inside, the crackling sounds of the fire, the heat produced by it and the aroma of oak and maple burning in the Franklin fireplace wrapped around me like a security blanket.


I stretched out on the sofa, covered by a 100 percent wool turtle robe blanket that was a gift from my mother Maebel 20 years ago.

In many cultures, the turtle represents health and longevity. I don't dismiss the possibility that my mother chose the turtle robe as a gift of blessing for her only son.

This month marks two years that she's been gone now, passing away a few months shy of her 104th birthday.

I cuddled into the turtle robe, warmed by the blanket that in this case serves as a strong reminder to me that if one loves a parent(s), they never leave you.

So it is on a frigid night on Lake Beltrami when a mother's blanket warms her son, her love still protecting him. She would like that thought.

I have a ritual here when the days come that UND hockey plays away from home and I still am at the cabin.

It's one I mapped out again this weekend. Quite simple, quite cozy, quite enjoyable.

I'll get the fire going, first of all. I'll have the turtle robe ready on the sofa.


Then I'll tune in Tim Hennessy's radio broadcast of the Western Michigan games, snuggle down under the robe and follow the game through Hennessy's wonderful call.

My ultimate compliment to him is that I can listen to Hennessy describe the play and "see" it from my cabin sofa. He brings the game to life with his colorful, homespun broadcast, and yes, opinions.

I'll follow some college football today, particularly the FCS playoffs. I would like to see success for the Big Sky Conference, but in the big picture, I don't see how anyone will beat the NDSU Bison this year, barring key injuries.

An excellent senior class has carried them to two straight national titles and a third appears almost a sure thing.

At least that's the view this December from Lake Beltrami, where the snow is deep, the temperature is cold and my days to remain here are down to a precious few.

Virg Foss reported on sports for the Grand Forks Herald for 36 years until his retirement. He writes a column exclusively for the Herald from October through April. Contact him at or (701) 772-9272.

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