Temperatures at the lake dipped below ten degrees Fahrenheit this week and the wind is blowing steady out of the north. This seems to be the typical weather of November, and it is at first a welcome change from the wet weeks of October with their dark and sinister aspect. This week the days are bright and free of clouds blown away by the wind. This too will wear thin as the near-constant wind tugs and pushes as us, buffets the house, and urges us to feed the woodstove with precious birch logs, but for now we are enjoying the dry and clean crispness of the first days below freezing. We only have enough snow to brighten the ground and record the passing of tiny forest critters that we forget about most of the year for they pass unnoticed. Now, in the bright windy days of November we find their tracks in the fresh snow.
The lake itself is made raucous by the wind so that groups of late waterfowl look like adventuresome fishing boats challenging the waves. Along the shore a family of swans is mistaken for the ice that’s now forming in chunks and pancakes where the water is lapping against on the land. The floating dock and its land-tied finger are frozen together and coated in the ice formed when spray coats the wood. The south cove where Bear Creek begins it’s run-out to the sea is frozen now but not ready for ice skates for the ice is like a rumbled bed sheet frozen on an unmade bed.
The rest of the lake will not freeze until we have a few hours without wind. If the temperature stays low and the wind drops, we will be able to watch the first skins of ice form minute by minute and, if enough acres freeze, the wind will whisk across it and leave it flat and smooth to freeze day after day until we are skating for a few days before the snows of December. For now, we are content to walk the shore with grandchildren and admire the formations of ice constructed by wind and cold along the shore of a lake where November is a celebration of the interplay between wind, water, and cold.