Monday, February 1, 2010

All Kinds of Ice

Bright sun, blue sky, temp in the mid-20s -- it felt almost balmy today as I set off across the snow-covered frozen expanse of Lake Moreau. A string of well-below-zero nights has set up the ice real thick, so I had no fear of falling through as I walked straight across the middle, despite the terrifying howls and roars and moans and rifle-shot cracks that echoed from lake to mountain all around.

The ice was noisy today. Sometimes it rumbled like a bowling alley, sometimes it sounded as if Hump-backed Whales were singing beneath my feet. Growing up on a lake in Michigan, I was told that these eerie sounds were made by the ice expanding, either because of freezing cold or of warming sun. Since today we had both, the ice let loose with every sound in its repertoire.

I headed straight across the lake to climb a ridge on the other side, taking a trail that follows a stream to porcupine dens near the top. I could hear the stream rushing along as it tumbled down its rocky course, but on the surface, it was frozen solid. This little waterfall looked as if it were carved out of Waterford crystal.

At one point the surface ice gave way to reveal the rushing stream beneath a scallop-edged opening.

Once again, the porcupines eluded me, although their trails continue to be well used, with evidence of recent activity. And today, I did find one quill. A very thin one and not very sharp, but a quill, nevertheless.

My next stop was the Sherman Island Boat Launch to see what the Hudson ice was up to. Today it was frozen solid, all the way across and halfway from here to Spier Falls Dam. But don't count on that ice being here tomorrow. The river flow is very dynamic here, and ice doesn't usually last long.

The stream that empties into the Hudson here by the boat launch was also frozen today. I followed its course way back into the woods, marveling at all the beautiful forms that ice can take on a flowing stream. There were ferns of ice so fragile they broke at a touch.

There were sheets of solid crystalline ice with bubbles captured in it.

There were delicate swirls that reminded me of the contour lines in a topographical map.

Some ice looked like the stylized wings and feathers on Pre-Columbian pottery.

Some looked like the coils of a spring.

I guess it's obvious, I'm enchanted by ice, by its beauty as well as its ephemeral nature. Ice is one of those things that make our cold winters not just bearable, but eagerly awaited. Snow is another. When will we get some more?


Ellen Rathbone said...

Isn't it wonderful? So much variety! I've been fascinated by the blue and green ice that forms on the rock faces along the highways. Big, massive flows of ice - but what causes the color? Is it from minerals leaching out? Or from light refracting within? I have yet to find a good answer.

Love the waterfall, btw! I've been on the lookout for a frozen waterfall, but so far no such luck.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire said...

Wonderful ice photos! I get obsessive about ice, too, which sometimes drives my patient husband nuts. I can spend hours wandering up and down a stream bed looking at all the fascinating patterns.

And like Ellen, I also have always wondered about the windshield washer fluid blue of the ice along the highways.

Its Time to Live said...

Looks as cold there as it is here in Northern Utah! Thanks for letting me wanter through a part of your world and life.

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Hi Ellen and Woodswoman X. If you read my next post, you'll see that I too wondered about that blue ice. The experts say it's not minerals but light scattering and absorbtion of red and yellow light by the ice. Whatever causes it, it sure is beautiful.

Hello, new friend from Northern Utah! Thanks for stopping by and letting us in on your world, too.