Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ice Crackin'

It is still cold and the ice has thickened. I start in Portage Bay by balancing over the canoe and scooting with one foot for the first 10 yards until the canoe settles through thinner ice into the water. Straight away, I head through the cut into a calm Union Bay with one eagle circling and brilliantly lit by the low winter sun over an unseen coot. This time the coot gets away and the eagle flies off low across the bay, and almost as if it is throwing a tantrum, it scatters a hundred ducks without showing any real interest at all. I crunch through the edge of the growing ice in the south lagoon. This is not like the ice last year, which froze during snowfall. That was weak and airy stuff and I paddled through it for most of the two weeks it was present. This ice is skater's ice, window ice - it is clear and dense, almost as clear as window glass. A half inch of it is hard to bust through with the canoe and 3/4 of an inch supports the boat completely. There will be no passage around the burial island, so I head north across the bay after talking with a kayaker who is enjoying the weather as much as I am. The swan from two days back is nowhere to be seen, but the view is one of my favorites - deep blue water with its horizon defined by a thin golden band of cattails, higher brush, and finally blue sky. Ice is forming in the west islands and along the north shore, so, it has definitely been cold and calm at night. There is a constant whistle/squeak of widgeons in mid bay.

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