Ice Out!

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Snowdrops and daffodils. Robins and geese. Lambs and maple sap running and yellow-green buds on the weeping willow.

All lovely signs of spring.

Of all the signs that winter is over, though, one makes me happiest, makes my heart soar and loosens the tensions in my upper back.

And that is when the ice goes out of our bay. Finally. It is not the first sign of spring, by any means, but it is, for me, the most welcome.

In the late autumn, it seems the ice comes in quickly. One day the water will be slushy and, seemingly the next day, ice fishers will be out drilling holes and catching perch.

But once it’s formed that ice stays and stays . . . and stays.

The larger sections of Lake Champlain, areas known around here as the “broad lake,” might stay open all winter. But our little bay always freezes and for months we miss the sounds of water and the sight of water birds and any sign of movement.

This year, the ice held on in Monty’s Bay until yesterday.

In the morning, solid ice covered the entire bay.

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But the temperatures reached 50F, we’d had a good bit of rain, and the winds were gusting to 50 miles an hour, from just the right direction.

At 4 in the afternoon, I could see a dark band across the way—and movement.

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The band grew and widened, and water flowed near our seawall.

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By 7, three hours after I saw the first band, the ice was almost completely gone—big floes moving and breaking up.

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I could see birds wheeling above the open water and waves forming and movement. That’s the difference—there’s movement, where there had been none for months.

It will be a good while before we see kingfishers or sailboats or children playing in these waters. But that isn’t the point.

The point is, it’s official—spring is here!

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One day–what a difference!!

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54 thoughts on “Ice Out!

  1. Wowsah! That was fast. So fun to look at the series of pictures. And, yes, very exciting when the ice is out. We live in a town of a lakes and ponds, and we all eagerly await ice out day. Not yet, but your post has inspired me to take pictures of our ponds and lakes this afternoon. Who knows what I will see.

  2. That must be so exciting. Ice that deep, that persistent is unknown here. I think I would accept it though, in place of our unremitting mud, which this year goes on ….. and on.

    • I’d take ice over mud, too, any day! There’s an old photo of my grandfather hauling ice, cut from the lake, to use for refrigeration. In a town near here, they build a HUGE ice palace every year, with ice from their local lake–pieces 3 or more feet thick!

  3. Movement and a sense of returning life. Yes, Spring! We mark it by sightings of birds, including turkey vultures, and pelicans (when we’re lucky enough to spot them.) The juncos disappear, the wrens start chattering. And the squirrels haul mouthsful of leaves into their new nests to wait for babies.

  4. You did an excellent job in documenting that change! I know you will enjoy that beautiful view for many months to come. Ah, spring…my favorite season!

  5. I live in Bellingham WA on the Puget Sound – Bellingham Bay. We don’t ice over and see lots of winter rough movement. I really enjoyed the photo sequence of the spectacular ice melt. What a welcome for spring!

    • The ice was partly melting but it was also moving–there were big pieces that got blown off to be someone else’s problem! Whatever–it’s not here anymore and I’m so pleased!

      • I think it will be in the upper 50s by the end of next week. Today is still 21 degrees! I do have daffodils poking and a few crocus but with no sun or warmth they don’t open! The wind here is very biting! I guess bulbs poking is a good sign :))

    • It really was impressive, to see such a change! One year, we saw an ice floe, about the size of a football field, float by, with one single gull riding along on it!

  6. Hooray for melting ice. 🙂 I worked outside for a little over 3 hours this morning picking up branches and sticks. What a mess. But, there I was with a winter coat, hood, and two pairs of gloves on tackling the chore. One thing off my spring chore list. 🙂 Now, you have to get your chair pads out and enjoy. 🙂

  7. What an amazing change! I have lived by – or close to – the sea most of my adult life and never really appreciated what happens with a non-tidal body of water. Until now 🙂 I can well imagine that you experience loss every winter when all the outer signs of life disappear from your lovely lake. The movement and sound of the waves was a great joy to me year round when I lived overlooking this small part of the Southern Pacific…… I am so in love with discovering the different faces of nature that we all live with. I often take my surroundings for granted and the way the seasons move becomes a bit ho-hum – but then I see it all through someone else’s eyes and realise again how wonderful it all is. It won’t be long and you will be sitting out there and water watching again ❤

    • Water is totally fascinating in all its forms–even the differences in the ice surface are interesting during the winter–but I do like hearing the water movement and the birds. It’s not like the ocean, with the relentless and wonderful crashing of waves, but there are definitely sounds that I don’t even know I’m hearing . . . until winter, then I miss them!

  8. Around NE Ohio this morning we had snow showers and cars spinning out on roads. Yuk! However, I read that as of the last week in March, only 34.2 percent of Lake Erie remained frozen. We’ll take any signs of spring we can get.

  9. Wow! it’s amazing to see that change. I can remember ice flows on the creek — they would break up and move with the current and crash into each other–and finally melt. But the breaking up always meant spring!

  10. What a great photo story Kerry, I had no idea it could melt that fast. I am glad to hear spring is really on its way, because I’m not feeling it! Our high tomorrow is supposed to be a whopping 22.🙄

    • The ice isn’t just melting, it’s also breaking up and floating away, and probably piling up in someone else’s bay, downwind! But the transformation is still totally impressive. I’ve seen that your winter continues–here’s hoping you get relief soon!

      • I think maybe this week we’ll finally catch a break. I’m not sure we reached 20 yesterday, but we did have a lot of sun in the after noon so the snow really settled.

  11. Ice Out! Yes, truly a sign that spring is really making her way and staying! There is a sign- up sheet in the little market here in town with predictions for ‘ice out’ on lake St. George. I think a free pizza for the winner! The shacks are off and soon the docks will be in!

    • Oh, that’s fun, to have a contest for the ice! There’s a book, by Dana Stabenow, who lives in and writes about Alaska, called “Breakup.” It’s a murder mystery so there’s a murder (duh) but the sub-plot is about how the people and animals all go a little crazy in this spring when the ice breaks–fun!

  12. Pingback: Post Script to Ice Out | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  13. This makes me think of how excited we were as kids on the first-of-the-year drive to Fire Island when we saw the landmark pine trees on the highway’s medial strip. That’s when we knew we were almost at the boat dock.

  14. Amazing!!! Ice out is a big deal, for sure! I checked the ice in the pool the other day, still pretty thick where I can see it on the edges, but there has been lots of melting, and the water level is right where it needs to be for spring. Now for some warmer weather to melt!

    • Oh, pools take forever! With a lake, the wind does a lot of the work, breaking things up and moving it all along. But your pool depends entirely on the sun . . . too early to be swimming anyway! Brrrrrrr

  15. How sweet to have your water back! You caught the transformation beautifully. So, I’m curious, did you put those lovely planters out in anticipation of spring, or do you leave them out all winter? I was ready to haul mine out of the basement last week, along with the bird baths, but didn’t get to it.
    Probably a good thing since it’s now snowing–5 inches and coming down strong. Spring chores are going to have to be compressed into a frenzied week or so this year, I fear!

    • We keep the pots in the garage in the winter and I wouldn’t normally put them out so early but my husband had ankle surgery last week and is going to be gimpy for several weeks and I wanted his help getting them out! I hope this ice bath won’t so them too much harm . . .

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