One of the compelling things about living in the north, or at least in my north, is the way things can go from dismal to amazing overnight. And they frequently do. Just when I start to think, “Oh, this is ridiculous, why am I doing this?”, events will take a 180 degree turn and something, or someone, amazing comes along and makes it all worthwhile, indeed rewarding. This happened over the last few days as the ice froze on the lake. We went from living in houseboat misery to having a sublimely beautiful experience out on the ice.
Just 2 days after the ice formed at our place, it was several inches thick – solid enough to be safe. Suddenly, as is typical around here, everyone was out and about, seizing the short opportunity to enjoy the marvel of a huge expanse of flat and bare lake ice. Apparently its not often that it freezes flat, and remains snow free. We saw folks walking with boats, (a commonly employed safety procedure for thin ice), riding bikes, and people walking, skating, and enjoying spontaneous hockey games. The dogs were having fun too.
Tony, the Snow King, (see my blog post about his ice castle here) and his crew sprung into action, cutting chunks of clear ice from the lake to make windows for the castle, and ice sculptures for the sculpture garden. Amazingly, the ice was 6 inches thick and they could very safely stand at the edge of the hole they created. (For safety sake they also put up a sign alerting folks to the hole, although I’m sure it freezes solid each night).
It’s a strange experience to skate over clear green ice. It’s so clear you can see the bottom of the lake, and the fish underneath the ice. It feels unnatural to walk on the surface of the water, but in a good, superhero with superpowers kind of way. There are many cracks in the ice from the ice expanding, and also from all the flexing stress it was under during the big winds a few days earlier. There are also areas where the ice was completely broken and then refrozen, such as the path created by the fishing boat going out. Here it looks like open water, but closer inspection reveals that the small chunks of ice are solidly frozen into ice of a different color. You can walk or skate over this area too, although it takes a bit of courage on my part to do so. Its just so unnatural!