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Jim Cumming - From the Publisher's Pen

Jim is the publisher of the Fort Frances Times Ltd. He writes a weekly column and can be contacted at

Spring definitely is in the air

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the calendar spring. Sunday was St. Patrick's Day and the wearing of green really marked the beginning of spring.

My mother was dressed in green at her Rainycrest home and she could feel the heat of the sun blazing through her south-facing window on Sunday afternoon. For her, that heat from the sun was a clear indicator that spring is on the way.

She couldn't see the blue sky, or know what month we are in, but the heat of the sun told her that spring was arriving. And she was pleased that winter was coming to an end.

Being diabetic is a lifetime disease

I am a diabetic with Type 2 diabetes. I was first diagnosed more than 25 years ago and over the course of time, I have moved from controlling diabetes with diet, then to pills, and now finally with pills and insulin.

Every quarter, I dread the A1C test that my family doctor orders up. It can track your blood glucose levels for 90 days. The test tells me how well I have been managing my diabetes in the previous three months (you can't cheat on the test unless you have someone else provide the blood sample).

And then you wait for the results.

Time to plan cabin projects

Even though the temperatures haven't risen above the freezing mark, and the wind still chills the body through to the bones, I'm ready to begin making plans for the cabin.

Each year, we look at potential projects to make the cabin more enjoyable. One year it was all new insulated double windows. Another year was new knotty pine paneling and bead board ceilings. Another was hardwood flooring and then there was a new unattached bathroom with all the comforts of home.

There was a wide wooden walkway connecting all the buildings.

Snow piles bring back memories

The sun is shining, making it look like a perfect day, but the wind is continuing to blow from the northwest, making it feel like a frigid mid-January day when, in fact, we are nearing the end of February.

The talk in the coffee shops now is focusing on when the snow will end, as well as the height of the snowbanks lining the streets of Fort Frances.

Will another government fall to scandal?

Do we elect governments or toss out governments at the federal level?

Since the 1930s, governments have fallen on scandals that have included potential bribery, potential collusion with Russian spies, and misappropriations of federal sums.

I remember when the Fort Frances Times acquired its first offset press in the mid-1960s. It had come all the way from Heidelberg, Germany in a huge crate.

Snow depth is deceiving

It is surprising how the accumulation of snow is deceiving. Through to Christmas, we had very little snow on the ground. And even through to the last week of January, the depth of the snow was not huge.

The deer regularly waltzed through the yard and often bedded down either under the spruce tree or nestled close to the white birch.

They continued to come into the yard right up through the cold snap. The mother and two year-old fawns could bed down and, with their noses tucked in, would lie below the top of the snow.

Saluting our snow clearing crews

Sometime after 4 in the morning on Monday, I became aware of a grader rumbling by my house. Sometime later, the sound of the sidewalk plow made an impression on me.

When I finally was ready to go out shortly after 6:30 a.m., I was not wrong. Both had been by in the early hours of the morning.

Alas, by the time I got outside, two inches of snow already had covered over the path of the sidewalk plow and even more snow had created soft lines over the bank in the driveway.

Dealing with the cold

Early Sunday morning, the street light at the corner of our yard had a halo around it. And as the sun was rising in the east, it seemed like a fog had descended across the community as I looked out from a second-floor bedroom window.

In reality, it was just ice crystals in the air.

“Alexa” announced to me as I began making breakfast that the outside temperature was minus-43 C. I knew then that the hydro meter would be spinning madly as I reheated my garage workshop to continue on my project.

Sore hands from latest project

My hands are sore today (Monday) as I spent the weekend in my wood shop beginning a new project which is made almost entirely of red oak.

Beginning Saturday, on the coldest day of the year, I began planing the four oak boards and two ash boards to thickness.

My wife kidded me that I had waited so long to begin this project as I went out to the freezing side of the garage to set up my planer and equipment. Your breath just hung in the air as you exhaled in that side of the garage.

Food guidelines changing yet again

I will tell you right from the start that I am a Type 2 diabetic who is insulin dependent.

It has forced me to pay greater attention to what I eat for almost 25 years. Sometimes I have been more successful than at other times, and exercise certainly plays a very important role in controlling my blood glucose levels.

Early on, I had discovered that prepared foods wreaked havoc with blood sugar levels and I had to pay close attention to carbohydrates.