As we drift toward February on into the false spring and joyous discovery of the eager exuberance of the emergence of snowdrops, grape hyacinths and daffodils, those of us who rationalized an extra chocolate chip cookie or last smidgen of fudge and had to let out a couple of notches on our belt must start to take seriously the onslaught of reminders in and on the media to diet, exercise and not eat today what you should put off until tomorrow.

Even Newsweek's January 17 issue is headlined Diet and Genes, with a clever artist's depiction of a DNA chain composed of colored plastic knives, forks and spoons. Oh yes, the Devil must've invented chocolate. Be that as it may ,as spring peeks over the horizon and iffy weather precludes outside activities for all of us but the most robust on the North End of the county, there's a spat of New Year's resolves as devotees of the South Beach or Atkins diets hide the butter dish and the sugar bowl and go back to counting carbs.

Lucky for them good lean protein is as close as their freezers, thanks to the hunters and fishermen such as Don Hughes and Ed Novak. Those good looking guys are sterling examples of how to lose unwanted pounds and keep them off.

Staying the course

Annie Novak ignores the weather and has stayed the course of good diet and exercise. She buys a lot of her casual clothes in the Boys Department of the department stores, as does my daughter-in-law Arlene Genova.

On just about any given morning before or after school you'll find Conni Curry, Stephanie Haggard, or Marilyn Hughes walking the six mile round-de-lay from the school house east to the Mallory Bridge, across the Grande Ronde on the River Road past the Fish and Wild Life Headquarters, up the hill, (yes, there is one unnoticed if you are driving, but rather steep on foot) past the Bartlett Road.

Before crossing the old bridge, now a foot bridge, you'd better catch your breath at the Shilo which has the closest facilities open to the public. Forego the homemade pies - just settle for a cuppa and say hello to Bill and Ferrell Vail or Mary Grieves, all of whom have become thinner in the up and down balance of the scales.

Of senior vintage

Some of our citizens of senior vintage set great examples not only in how to grow old gracefully, but have maintained their trim waistlines and jean sizes over the years. Of course the men always challenge women of a certain age as they tend to continue the macho-outdoor life of being farmers and ranchers. Those every-day-of-the-year chores are remarkably good exercise. Just take a look at the Moore brothers, Lowell and Orvis, or the Mallory men. In a special class all his own is our town patriarch, Howard Bud Johnson, and on the distaff side, Iris Mallory is a prime example of someone who waltzes to her own music. And Sue Zeller, hands down the best cook in an area of good cooks, still has the lovely face and wonderful smile as when we met her over 10 years ago.

Perhaps as the weather warms, the age old admonition to eat less and exercise more doesn't require any weighing of alternatives or cost anything. Meanwhile, although the snow has been light so far, signs of the coming spring remind us the temptation to be outside will grow stronger as the sun reappears and the chores will pull us outside to the exercise I enjoy most: gardening.

Ruth Winetar said hello via e-mail from her winter home in Golden Shores. Her summer place is up for sale and when it does sell she will head north to Enterprise or Joseph to look for a permanent home. Jean Wiggins shares her copy of The Chieftain with Ruth, who had some nice things to say about both the paper and my column. Ruth has been busy with other activities and said she hasn't done much writing, but is anxious to rejoin the writing group at Fishtrap.

So you all take care and good luck with your individual food fight and exercise.

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