Ice Fishing

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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.

13 comments

  1. Sooo descriptive!!!! Love your adjectives, verbs, etc. Just good writing. Of course, I love the local color, too — never even heard of sugar season. But I have now!!

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      1. I, too, am enjoying your blog. Your work must be interesting to take you to so many towns. I work with teachers and travel, too, but not to a variety of towns. It’s nice, though, to see whatever we can whenever we can. Happy travels!

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  2. Elin, I am totally fascinated! I’ve never been ice fishing and you’ve given me a glimpse into a different world. 🙂 Your photos are gorgeous and you write beautifully with such vivid imagery. All the best, Terri

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    1. Thank you so much. Ice fishing is super fun! But cold, brrrr! Maybe on your next round-the-world-trip, head to the far north in search of some ice to fish on? 🙂

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  3. Thank you for this late winter/early spring “painting” – so, late sugar season this year… Just finished the maple sugar that you sent for X-mas, very much appreciated! Must think of sth else to sprinkle on my daily “Perle de lait” (yogurt) at lunchtime now!

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