Yesterday morning, a fat sugar moon high in the western sky at the break of day, a peachy-pink to the east, clear blue skies overhead, the air crisp and cold. Today, three inches of wet spring snow on the ground. The sugar season on hold. In the maple grove, buckets hanging limp on trees, empty of sap, bucket covers draped in snow. But there is hope for spring. Light lingers longer in the evenings and the ice on the river is starting to soften and break up. Ice fishing shanties are slowly migrating to shore, to be hauled away, stored until next winter.
Two weeks ago, a few hours on the ice, jigging pole in hand, bundled in many layers of wool and down, and wearing heavy boots, eight inches of solid ice underfoot. A bitter wind whipped across the expanse of the lake, and the heat of a fickle sun was negligible. A small catch (and release) of perch and bluegills, colors bright and shimmery against the blue-white ice. Sitting still, a fishing pole perched over a small, freshly drilled hole, sheets of ice forming immediately again on any open water, droplets turning into pearls of ice on the fishing line, frozen to the bone by the end of the afternoon. A solitary and meditative activity on a frozen span of water, the quiet punctuated by the radios and chatter of the other ice fishers, the drone of motorized augers drilling new holes in the ice. Though elusive, a glimpse of the allure of ice fishing, the beauty of stillness in winter, icy waters moving beneath my feet, a small peephole into another world.