Post Script to Ice Out

I chortled and cheered yesterday about the ice leaving our bay on Lake Champlain.

I marveled at the movement of the water.

And my, how that water moved, driven by high winds, throwing wave upon wave to our seawall.

We had ice out . . . but also lots of ice ON!

All our red flower pots, the small fire pit, the limbs I’ve been clearing from the lawn, and every blade of grass on the lawn . . . all glowing, encased in ice.

Welcome to spring in the North Country of upstate New York . . . .

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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!!

Fun with Ice and Snow. And Wind.

I was having a little lie-down yesterday, on a bitterly cold but sunny afternoon, when the usually-placid cat on the bed started growling.

She was looking intently out the window and I thought, “Racoon.”

Not hardly!

This para-skier swooped and flipped and flew outside our windows for an hour or more, in spite of wind chills well below zero. Later, another guy joined him, so we had a pair-a-skiers. (Sorry.)

Steamy Weather

Yesterday morning, the outdoor temperature here was minus-25 Fahrenheit. For those of you of a Celsius persuasion, that’s almost minus-32.

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Pictorial evidence

 

That’s the cold of insta-frostbite. That’s the cold of “keep your pets in, no matter how much they agitate to go out.”

That’s the cold of “three cat nights” in bed, hot chocolate with boozy eggnog added in, and letting the mail pile up in the box because how important could it be anyway?

And it’s the cold of one of my favorite weather phenomena.

Our Lake Champlain water temperature is 36 degrees right now (about 2 Celsius). The bays are frozen solid enough for ice fishers to be out in their tents.

But steam is rising off the broad lake. Big billows of steam . . .

 

Paradise, by the Morning Lights

I am pleased—nay, relieved—to announce that paradise has arrived chez nous.

Paradise, according to my standards, that is.

Your idea of paradise might be very different from mine. Yours might not include early morning walks, with long shadows and stunning green.

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Maybe you don’t care for birds singing and roosters crowing, and woodpeckers pecking. Maybe the sight of old cats finding their inner kitten and frolicking in the sun fails to impress.

Maybe you’re bored with flowers blooming and grass greening, and the sound of lawns being mowed. Maybe the uncurling, unfurling, of tender hosta leaves doesn’t move you.

A lake free of ice and full of sparkles, with boats venturing out in spite of the water temperature being a mere 40 degrees F (that’s about 4 C)—maybe that doesn’t spell paradise to you.

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The signs of spring and the hints of summer abound. The promises of things to come are all around.

My paradise isn’t a static place—paradise doesn’t stand still. It whispers and suggests and promises that even more and even better is . . . soon.

Peonies, Solomon seal, lilies of the valley . . . they will come.

Old chairs on new grass, and the good old, same old sun. Kayaks in the water, bikes on the road, hot dogs on the grill. Music and song at the campfire.

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And two of our favorite people will arrive from their Florida home and take up residence just down the road.

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My paradise is . . . well, paradise! I hope you have your own, whatever it looks like.

Autumn Senses–The Sounds of Canada Geese

geese2I stand on my front deck. I hear a faint sound that confuses me, even as it’s getting louder. It’s the sound of a train coming through.

But the closest train tracks are several miles away . . .

The sound grows louder, gets closer.

It becomes clearer what it is.

That’s no train!

That’s a huge flock of Canada geese, heading our way.

The temps are in the 80s, the leaves are still green, the grass still needs to be mowed.

But it’s autumn. The geese tell me so. They insist.

Dozens, nay, hundreds, of Canada geese visit our bay at this time of year. In November, they’ll give way to snow geese.

The Canada geese are the early harbingers of fall. And they sound really, really excited about it.

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They sit out there in the bay and yak among themselves. They squawk and they chuckle and they chortle. They yip and they yap. They sounds like they’re laughing, and arguing, and announcing important news.

They get quiet and then for no discernible reason, they start in again, all at once, raising a ruckus.

They chat early, early in the morning, well before first light, and they are the last sound I hear before drifting off to sleep.

It not just their voices I hear. When a flock comes in, I can hear the beating of all those wings and the splish as they hit the water.

And when they leave, it’s never a quiet “exit, stage left.” They leave with noise and splashing and flapping and a big huzzah.

It seems they must be communicating; it can’t all be sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I’d love to know what they’re saying. Is the meeting in Monty’s Bay the equivalent of a block party, a meet and greet with neighbors? Or is it more a high school reunion, seeing friends they haven’t seen for years?

Are they talking about how they spent their summer vacation? The sights they saw up north? Or are they planning the upcoming trip, deciding where to stay and where to eat. That’s what we talk about when planning a trip . . .

They sound pretty happy and excited, but sometimes they sound cranky and argumentative. I imagine them arguing over who gets to fly first, out in that big point in the V in the sky.

“It’s my turn! You did it last time!”

“Well, I’m better at it than you! You led us to Kansas. Who wants to got to Kansas?!”

“How come I never get to be in front? I’m tired of looking at your back end!”

“You can’t be in front, you’re a girl!”

“You sexist gander, you!”

They all talk at once, nobody seems to be listening. It’s enough to make a person think of American politics . . . well, never mind.

Autumn in upstate New York smells like campfire. It tastes like a Northern Spy apple and cider doughnuts. It looks like maple trees with leaves aflame.

And it sounds like Canada geese.

What does autumn sound like in your neck of the woods?

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