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In to the Wind

December 5, 2012
By Mike Gilchrist , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

I have 23 staples in my stomach, and too much distraction to write a column. Yours truly is taking another week off to mend and heal. In the meantime, enjoy this column from the past, where I explain the meaning behind the name for this column. I promise to be back next week with a new piece.

- Mike

I have been asked countless times what I mean by "In to the Wind."

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In the past, way back in the late 70s and early 80s, I wrote a column for the Iowa City paper called "Into the Wind." When I wrote the first column and filed it with my editor, it appeared in the paper as "Into the Wind." I submitted it as 'In to the Wind." It remained "Into the Wind" for a few years. Editors are like that; they usually win.

Being something of a renaissance man, when my column was revived in the pages of this publication, I submitted it as "In to the Wind," and that name has stuck. My weekly column is entitled "In to the Wind."

Is there really a distinction between into and in to? In my mind there clearly is a distinction.

Into is a preposition. When crafting a sentence, the preposition into is part of a prepositional phrase consisting of into + its object + any modifiers of its object. The phrase will function adverbially to modify the verb or verb phrase preceding the prepositional phrase.

When she walked into the room, all eyes were on her.

Mom told the kids to put the toys into the toy box.

When you use the phrase in to, in is an adverb, directly modifying a verb, and to is a preposition with its own object.

Yes, there is a distinction. Consider these two sentences.

He turned the bicycle into the wind.

He turned the bicycle in to the wind.

The first sentence is absurd. *Poof* the bicycle was turned into another object; the wind.

The second sentence is proper. In is the adverb, modifying turned, while to is the preposition.

Now that we have clarified the usage of into and in to, why do I insist my column be called In to the Wind?

First off, the term into, in contemporary speech can mean something that one finds particularly attractive, like I am into women or I am into computers. However, I am NOT into the wind!

The wind has been a nemesis most of my life. I am not into it! Instead, In to the Wind is a sort of metaphor for a challenge, or obstacle I must overcome.

In the distant past, I was really into bicycles. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I seriously kept a car. During my teen years I kept a series of jalopies to tote me around town, but a bicycle was my preferred means of transportation. During those years I averaged over five thousand miles each year on my bicycle. Besides being in the best shape of my life, I saved a lot of money.

While I missed the First Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, I went into training for the second, which was called SAGBRAI, for the Second Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.

As an aside, some forward thinking person decided to change the name to RAGBRAI after the second ride. I have it on good authority the reason wasn't because the third would be called TAGBRAI, but because what the fourth would be called. There are people who wouldn't have ridden on a bike ride called FAGBRAI.

But, as is usual, I digress. While training for SAGBRAI, I went on longer and longer rides to condition myself for the week long event. I always planned my rides so during the first half, I was riding in to the wind. That way, at the half way point, I would be riding with the wind as I made my way back home.

I probably should have studied meteorology a little more so I understood wind better. Invariably, by the time I reached my half way point, the wind had shifted directions, and I had to ride in to the wind once again.

I tried modifying my route so at times I could ride with the wind, instead of in to the wind. If my memory serves me, and that detail has been in contention lately, I usually ended up riding in to the wind for most of my rides. The wind was my nemesis; it switched to spite me.

Once, my dad and I decided to go trout fishing in northeast Iowa. We went to a trout stream which was know to harbor native trout as opposed to the typical release and catch method employed at many of the stocked streams.

The trout stream was called Bloody Run Creek, found in Clayton County, near McGregor, Iowa. Looking at a map of the area, it was apparent the crick suddenly appeared in a remote area. We decided we would hike to these "headwaters and see where the crick started.

What we found was a small pond and an ancient cabin, complete with a rustic front porch looking out over the pond. The cabin reminded me of what Thoreau would have lived in on Walden Pond, or maybe something Isaac Walton would have built. Upstream from the pond, which was at the base of a bluff, we found the source of Bloody Run.

We had to wade through some really chilly water to get there. Out of some huge boulders on the side of that bluff gushed a strong stream of water. It was a hot July day, so it felt refreshing to me as I reached my arm as far as I could into that spring. Here was the source of the crick, and the reason that stretch of water could support a native trout population; the water was really cold.

Yes gentle reader, Iowa can support a population of native brook trout in certain areas. We managed to catch our limit downstream from that pond, but not without some personal battles with my old nemesis.

My dad had taught me to look for roiling water behind or downstream from a boulder in a stream. I found a very likely candidate and flicked my beloved 00 red and white Daredevle lure towards the upstream side of that boulder. There was a fairly strong breeze blowing, and my lure fell short of the boulder. I compensated and tossed it again.

As is prone to happen, the wind laughed at me and instead of landing upstream from the boulder, my lure took a gentle arc and ended up in the branches of a tree on the opposite bank. The four pound test line was not strong enough to wrest the captured lure from the tree. The line snapped. My favorite lure, as far as I know, is still tangled in the branches of that tree. But, it is not alone.

I tied another lure onto my line. A little spinner bait was my choice. It had a little more weight than the diminutive Daredevle. My logic was because of the added weight, I could control the cast a little better. I flicked the lure towards the rock, and once again the wind taunted me. I now had the second lure twisted around the branches of that tree.

Not to be outdone by my nemesis, I tied on yet another lure, a little heavier again than the last.

Either in a tree above a boulder on Bloody Run Creek, or in some other wiser fisherman's tackle box, sits not one, not two, but three diminutive lures. Mike zero, the wind three; I am NOT into the wind.

So there you have it, the source of the name for my column.

On those dark nights out camping next to pristine trout streams, when that inevitable midnight call to nature arrives, there is something you never, ever do in to the wind!

Until next time-

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the "Local Columns" button.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2005 - 2012 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.



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