Published January 23, 2013, 12:00 AM

Makin' Waves: ‘The doldrums of winter’ launches new humor column in Review

This phenomenon called the doldrums of winter was introduced to me at a very young age by a very wise old man.

By: Adam Hjelm, The Osakis Review

Editor’s note: “Makin’ Waves” is a new, monthly column written by Adam Hjelm.

This morning on my way into work, I stopped by the café for a quick cup of Phyllis’s 10W30 coffee. I also thought maybe, just maybe there would be a bit of wit and wisdom to be gained at the café as well. Looking back, I realize I must not have been thinking clearly. Phyllis was in a particularly disgruntled mood this morning and was taking it out on the local patrons through her secret blend of “coffee.”

After a few minutes of chatting with the coffee clinkers, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the guys at the table were also in a bit of a foul mood. They were complaining about how much their wives had spent on Christmas gifts, how much snow there was, how slow the fishing had been, and about anything else you could put a pessimistic spin on.

It was there, listening to the old curmudgeons and trying to stomach the 10W30 coffee, I thought we must be approaching the doldrums of winter already.

This phenomenon called the doldrums of winter was introduced to me at a very young age by a very wise old man. He said that a combination of holiday regrets coupled with cold temperatures, lots of snow, and limited daylight puts everyone in a foul mood.

Ice fishermen are the first ones in a community to show signs of the doldrums. They initially get really edgy and stop at the bait store daily to try any new bait and new lure that is on the shelf. When the new baits and lures don’t work on the lethargic fish, they begin frantically moving their fish houses from spot to spot.

In some cases, you can actually track these fishermen by the Swiss cheese patterns of drilled holes they leave behind them while on the search of more productive water.

Finally, they just give up the search and hunker down in one spot and complain how good fishing used to be and that all the summer tourists catch all the fish. This is when they get really moody and it is best to steer clear of them under any circumstances.

A buddy of mine once tried fishing next to a guy that had a really bad case of doldrums and was assaulted with an ice scooper. The only thing that saved him was the thick padding of his long underwear.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much advice to give on ways to avoid or help cope with the doldrums of winter. Many things have been tried without much progress reported. Some of the weaker folk do take trips to warmer climates for a mini-vacation to cope, and some of the really weak ones will actually bring their spouses.

Some folks take up new hobbies, activities, and I have heard of a few people getting desperate enough to start exercising. I must recommend that you consult with your buddies and the local bartender before you get to this point as there might be something else wrong.

Others just push through and try to make the best out of the situation. We are a tough breed in this neck of the woods, and we will keep plugging along, even through the doldrums of winter. Now if you will excuse me, I need to stop at the bait store for some new lures and then go move my fish house for the second time today.

Adam Hjelm is a native that grew up on Lake Osakis…well, he got older, anyway. He covered some ground getting an academic education and has settled back in the area for his continued “local” education. In his spare time you can find him on the lake, chasing golf balls, or aimlessly wandering the woods. His mom thinks he is special. Contact Adam at