The turn of the seasons is always an exciting time, whether it is the green explosion of spring or the golden spray of fall leaves. This week, we moved into winter here in southern Alaska with temperatures settling into the twenties and the north wind sending us running to the closet for more clothes.
At our house on Bear Lake we are ready for the change though we had to move quickly. With the help of grandson, Sawyer, we placed the kayaks in their winter slings hanging in the rafters of the dog kennel, and we pulled the rowboat and nestled it in its nest in the boat shed. By the time we got to the rowboat though, the ice was wrapping around the hull and the ice pans threatened to anchor it on lakeshore for the duration. We’ve plucked the last hardy kale leaves and only the carrots wait in the soil to be harvest.
|This weekend we even found a few cranberries to augment our assorted berry larder.|
The last of the ducks seem to be looking at the horizon wondering if they should leave, they must know that on the first morning without out wind the lake will freeze and they have to migrate or move the salt water for the winter. Only the persistent north wind has kept the lake in motion so it doesn’t freeze. I have seen times when wind drops on a cold morning in October and one can watch the first skin of form on the lake.
Along the south shore where lumpy ice ridges have been forming on the beach for days, the thin layer of ice stretches out from the shore pushing the last of the Golden-eye duck farther off shore. Then fingers and pans of silver ice take shape off shore until they stretch and touch. I have seen five acres of ice form on the still lake in just a half hour.
Some years this is the end open water and the lid of ice covers the lake water for the winter. More often though, wind, rain and warming temperatures break the first layer of ice piled it in the south cove where Bear Creek drains the lake. As we watch the ice pans form and stack the last stash of firewood, we can only hope that the first week of November brings still cold ice making days so we can be skating by thanksgiving. Remember it’s the end of October and regardless of what the calendar says that’s the start of winter.