The Wonders of Ice

Friday, March 19, 2010
We do a bit of bickering at the Shack. Usually it’s about dishes and bedtimes and why the laundry on the floor never hops into the laundry basket. Sometimes though, it’s about blogging.

Andy’s not a blogger, but as the number one fan of “Of Woods and Words,” he has plenty of insight on what should get posted in this space. For example, he felt this recent blog entry should be called “Of Woods and Turds.” I had something slightly more poetic in mind.

But why “Of Woods and Turds?” Well . . .

We’ve unseasonably warm weather over last week and except from crusty piles here and there, our snow is done for. It’s bad, bad news for local businesses (well, at least for the restaurant; everyone else seems to be plugging along) but it’s made for some beautiful ice conditions on the lake. On Tuesday we headed out on the spongy ice. We found some beautiful designs in the ice. As we headed back towards the Shack, we found something else.

We took to hiking back along the path the dog sled teams used this winter. As the sled dogs start to run, they have a tendency to empty their bowels. Not really a big deal when there’s always the promise of fresh snow to cover up the evidence, but now that we’re almost down to just lake ice, there are tell-tale signs of the trail’s use as a mass toilet all over the ice. In clear pockets of ice along the path rest brown puddles flecked with straw. It is not pleasant. I declined to take any photos.

As you move into the bay, much lovelier ice conditions appear.

There are feathery fingers of frost all across the ice rink.

My favorite feature however is the risen paths that have appeared where the paths and ski trails compacted snow on top of the ice. Now as the rest of the snow melts off the lake’s surface, the trails remain as risen ice bridges across the bay’s surface.

 They remind me of the causeway that connects St. Michael’s Mount to the Cornish mainland near Penzance.

When the tide is out, you can walk the one-mile causeway out to old castle and monastery on the Mount. When the tide’s in, you have to take a boat. St. Michael’s Mount has a mythology wrapped up with giants (though the causeway out to the Mount is not to be confused with Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland), but the ice bridges outside my window right now look more like the work of Jack Frost and fairies.

As much as I like spring, this is far too early for highs in the mid 60s. We are not too far removed from a major wildfire incident to be nervous about dry early springs. In the past few days I’ve seen flies and beetles out. I worry about the natural cycle of things getting too far ahead of itself with this warm weather.

Maybe worrying about the environment is a luxury afforded only to those with little else to worry about. I’m not so sure. Many people have mentioned that in recent years the once pristine water quality of local lakes has declined. I think we have a moral responsibility to think about the effect of the living an everyday life in the woods has on the natural environment and to consider whether the negative changes we note in the environment are tied to our actions. While I fully acknowledge that I’m calling the kettle black here, you have to wonder if this is a corner of the world that’s really meant for septic systems. Should we be here?

This morning it’s spitting snow outside. I’m glad to see it. At least it’s slightly normal March weather. The lake ice has firmed up considerably and now it’s frightfully slippery!

It’s officially cram session at the Shack. On Wednesday night we made a reservation for a rental car. Apart from figuring out how exactly we’re getting to the airport, we’re pretty much set for April travel. But there’s still plenty to do around here before we go. On Wednesday I recorded three radio commentaries to get me through until the end of April. (The commentary is biweekly and the latest commentary is found here.) Yesterday, I turned in my April batch of articles and will likely receive my May assignments today to make up for my April absence. Although there’s a mere 6300 words to revise in the novel WIP, it still needs to get done before the end of the month. Should get some research in at some point too . . . .

Your intrepid blogger, hard at it. Hot . . . or not? ;)


  1. No one has the right to tell you what "you should" write. That's a form of manipulation and censorship. If someone has an idea what to write, that person should write it. Partner, spouse, whatever -- unless the person's paying you, they have no write to dictate your writing.

    The photos are great. And your trip sounds wonderful, and you're all organized for it -- great work!

    You're absolutely right -- we ALL have to be concerned about environmental quality around us, and our daily impact on it, or we won't have lives and a world to worry about.

  2. That should read no "right" to dictate your writing.

    My freudian slip is showing! ;)


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