Friday, January 9, 2015

the ice

It has been cold here in Maine.  Really cold.  We spent New Years Eve at our family's camp, arriving late evening to a camp that had been unheated and freezing cold for weeks.  We were so focused for the next few hours on getting the inside warmer than the outside that we kind of missed the coming of the New Year by a few minutes.

The next morning, in the light, and from a now very cozy camp, the kids headed out to see how the ice on the lake was doing. It was frozen solid.

And we watched the ice fishing shacks get pulled on sleds out onto the lake throughout the day.

Not only was the lake frozen, but the sand was oddly hard and unyielding as well.  Just weeks before we had walked on it in bare feet and dug down into it with our toes.  And clearly not so long ago it had been soft, if not warm.

When someone was out for a beach stroll.

We alternated between ice and fire that day.

Inside, we played a new family favorite game, 7 Wonders.  Oh my, it is fun.  A combination of Catan and Small World, that can be played with strategery or without, depending on the player's age and inclination.  And it only takes about 30 minutes to play a game.  Awesome.

Back home this week, inspired by the ice at camp, I have been visiting the river each day to see how it is doing.  Anxious to get us out on it to skate and play and walk on the river's surface.  Not wanting to miss the moment when I decide it is ready.

It's been a difficult trek down there, the temperatures in the single digits and the ground covered in an icy surface above a few inches of snow makes it difficult to navigate.  But each day I headed down and watched the open water freeze over until one morning, it looked ready.

I had that moment I have had each year since moving here.  Alone on the river.  Standing a bit tentatively on the surface, staying near the bank in case I am wrong about whether it is solid.  It is so quiet down there.  And I look back up at the house and begin to plan our time on the ice in my mind.  I collect the snow feathers off the ice to keep it clear for skating.

Later that day, the boys and I found the drill.  And tested the thickness.

It was exhausting.  Perhaps we need a sharper bit.

But, in the end, it was thick enough.

And so now we have had our first night's skate.  But a snow squall has covered the ice since then.  I headed down today to sweep a section clear.  Again, someone had been there before me.

I got to work.  And cleared the ice.

There's still a lot to do.

And so we have begun our time of watching, using, and knowing the ice.  How it freezes on which kinds of water, water that is still and water that moves.  How it freezes on surfaces smooth and textured.  How temperature, wind, movement and sun light affect how it forms.  And what gets trapped within it.

We do it each year, this ice watching  And each year I accept a little better the things we cannot control, like thaws and poorly timed precipitation and busy schedules.  And remember how quickly this season will pass.  

We get out on it and enjoy it as much as we can.  When we can.

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