After a few fits and starts which occurred last November, winter is finally fully upon us here in the Northeastern United States. Subzero temperatures assure that the pond is now completely frozen over and sufficiently safe to walk on. During the last couple of weeks, I’ve observed a few stalwart souls making their way out there, equipped with all the trappings for ice fishing either carried out or transported by snowmobile.
Wadleigh Pond isn’t a large pond by freshwater standards. Yet, from my aerie window, the people out there appeared very minimal as they made their way, insect-like, across the vast plain that is the pond in winter. Closer to the farther shore, I also watched as two figures attempted to skate. All it took was for one of the small black shapes to hit the ice before they and a third observer promptly left with perhaps a less treacherous endeavor in mind.
Along with all the other attributes it is known for, unpleasant or otherwise, winter in Maine is the only time when it is possible to walk on water. There is no other way to put it. For ice is water whose molecules have reorganized themselves into something more dense and solid and whose newly developed structure depends entirely on air temperature. Once the pond has frozen, it stays that way as long as the mercury in the thermometer remains at or about the freezing mark, which is 32 degree Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius. If the ice is thick enough, even a slight rise in temperature isn’t cause for alarm except perhaps along the shorelines where it isn’t as thick. Patches may appear in the surface, but for the most part, it’s still safe to walk on. And if the weather patterns are true to form, even a light rain re-freezes within a day or so, adding yet another layer to the icing on the pond.
While winter is undoubtedly the most challenging of all the seasons in terms of having to deal with snow, wind, and ice, it is also the time of year when nature pulls out her bag of tricks and when the cold transforms almost everything around us into something new. We can love it, we can hate it, can applaud it or berate it. And we CAN leave if it truly becomes more than we can bear. But it’s been my experience that, if we do stay, it only makes sense to fine-tune our senses in order to descry all those beauties that require more effort but that are so worth it in the end.
Photo Copyright @2015-Rachel Lovejoy (All Rights Reserved)