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Published April 17, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sun melts away winter memories

I had no choice, really. The porch was simply too inviting.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

I had no choice, really. The porch was simply too inviting.

I grabbed my bowl of soup, two folded-over jelly sandwiches and a glass of chocolate milk and went outside. I plopped myself right on the floor of our veranda porch, the side facing south, where the April sun was baking the floorboards.

Oh, yeah.

This was Wednesday, the day we had all been waiting for, the first day you could sit outside in utter warmth since — when? — sometime in November? I don’t know about your calendar, but on mine that’s almost half

the year.

For six months, I’d been taking my vitamin D in the form of a small white pellet. Now I was taking it straight from the source, a brilliant white sphere in the sky.

Any breeze off that giant margarita we call Lake Superior would have spoiled this moment, but for once the air stood perfectly still and not a bit of that radiant heat was whisked toward North Dakota. It was

all mine.

After I ate, it became clear what I needed next. I had been awake since

3:15 a.m., out for a morning of turkey hunting. As the hypnotist would say, my eyelids were getting very, very heavy.

I lay down across those old pieces of maple, all painted black, my own solarium. I put one hand under my head for a pillow. I closed my eyes.

Oh, baby.

I was a piece of toast, and the sunlight was butter melting into every exposed pore of my pasty winter face. The heat penetrated into my cheeks, glowed orange through my eyelids, searched out every irregular turn in my ears. The heat spread evenly across my entire smiling countenance.

As it did, it melted away every deep-frozen memory of winter. Gone were the nights blowing snow when the northwest wind whipped those needle-fine lasers of snow back across my face. Gone were the late-night dog walks when January’s cold probed for exposed flesh. Gone were the frigid interludes when we scurried across wind-scoured

parking lots.

The sun was so warm, I thought for a while I was back on the beach at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and a wiry old man toting a gunny sack of heavy objects was calling out “Coco-lochee! Coo-co-lookee!” If you hailed him, he’d come over and split a fresh coconut for you with his machete. That’s where

I was.

The sun was so tropical

I was reminded of floating in the ocean off Ixtapa on Mexico’s western coast, begging for late-afternoon shade so we could fix ourselves a supper of avocado-cucumber-tomato-and-lime-juice salad.

The heat was so complete that I was momentarily weightless, swimming with sea turtles in a coastal bay off the scalloped shores of St. John’s in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

And then, without even noticing, I was nowhere at all, baking and floating and dreaming. I only realized I had been there when I returned, when I became aware that something 93 million miles away was having a profound effect on my body.

I lay there for several more minutes in that zone of not quite sleep and not quite awake.

I lay there until — I know this sounds crazy — until I realized I was too hot.

And I thought, what a wonderful problem this is.

SAM COOK is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or