The icehouses started appearing on Bass Pond in Lanesboro this week, so winter must truly have arrived. There was even a car out in the middle of the ice, making someone a lot more daring than I am.

My father was one of those brave persons who did things like that, though for him it was economic, not recreational. He had an interstate trucking business, and he told us that when he was younger the river always totally froze over. So to cut short the time and gas required to deliver a load of livestock, or whatever they were hauling, they would simply take the shortest route and drive across the frozen river.

He said that one time he was just about across when he thought he heard the sound of ice cracking. So he jumped out of the cab and stood near the front of the truck (the end closest to the shore), thinking that if the cracking reached the truck, he'd run as fast as he could to shore. Fortunately, the noises he heard were either far away or something else, because neither he nor the truck got wet that day. That, and the car on the ice of Bass Pond, is pretty brave.

One of the ice fishing structures out there this weekend has a propane tank sitting on the ice outside, and it is obviously connected to something inside. That brings to mind stories I have heard of how luxurious and well outfitted those places can be. I've read of some that have electricity and bunk beds, small refrigerators, televisions and something on which to cook or at least heat up food. I was thinking camp stove, but if there is electricity, a microwave is not out of the question.

That makes me think of other things that have not been mentioned in stories I've read about these glamorous adaptations of the concept of "man caves." If there is a refrigerator and a way to cook, there must be a cabinet in which to keep the dishes, and a table to sit around and eat. And likely play cards, or whatever goes on in those usually male get-aways. Some of them must have windows, and if so, are there curtains or blinds? If there are beds, there must be pillows and blankets. Are there rugs on the floor?

Since I have never seen the inside of a fish-house, I can only imagine how well outfitted a serious ice fisherman makes his "digs." It seems similar to a long time ago when in my former life we went camping. Usually we went with my brother and sister and their families. Both of them had big glamorous and expensive tents. One was even a two-room job, which was quite something back then.

Ours - we were struggling students - was a very small one, which I vaguely recall was called a "pup tent." Two of us slept in that and the other on a picnic table or in the car, depending on the weather. Because it was so small, we had to be pretty careful about what we tried to take inside, so we removed our shoes outside, and I brought a throw rug to put at the entrance so as to never drag any sand or other stuff into the tent itself. That rug somehow intrigued my young nephew, who commented that it made our tent seem pretty fancy. And that got us going.

Since it was too small for others to come inside, even to sit around and talk if it was raining, he had never seen what it was like. So we started describing to him what all was in there. We said we had wall-to-wall carpeting, a small but useful library, a closet, and an easy chair for reading. We added things one at a time, and it took him awhile to figure out that we were just teasing. Well, maybe he knew all along and just faked his awe at what we could get into that small space. When he no longer went along with it, it became a further source of fun and inspiration for our collective imaginations: he would say, "Have you got this____ in there yet?" and off we would go finding more things, such as a billiard table, that we could use in our tent. It was good for a lot of laughs.

And that reminds me of another funny and creative incident of carpets in small spaces in my past. One of the people who worked for me was very imaginative and also loved a good practical joke. In our company there were rules for what amenities were provided with rank: RHIP (rank has its privileges)! Top level on the ladder got a corner office with windows and carpeting. Next down got offices along the sides of the building, still with windows (just on one wall) but no carpeting. Everyone else was in the "bull pen" out on the floor.

When this fellow was promoted, he wanted to poke fun at what he thought were too many rather silly rules. So one time when he was going to be out of the office on a business trip, he took a strip of carpet and put it under his door. From the outside it looked as if his office had been carpeted. Then he locked his door and left town.

My boss was a stickler for the rules. So when he came in and saw what he thought to be a carpeted office for someone who did not qualify for one, he had apoplexy. He wanted me to open the office so he could check it out, but I conveniently did not have a key. So he had to steam until the employee arrived back into town. I had used some humor on him before, so by now he was almost used to them. That didn't mean that he liked it; clearly he did not appreciate the creativity demonstrated by the rank prank!

I love imagining what is inside these icehouses out there on the pond. I am sure, like the carpet in our tent and the carpet in my employee's office, the thought is more fun than the reality.