Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Icy Amusements

Ho hum.  A winter without any snow can be really boring.  No skiing or sledding or snowshoeing or following animal tracks in the woods.  But lucky for me, I am easily amused.  And even luckier for me, I not only have the wonderful Moreau Lake to explore in every weather, I also have a congenial pal named Sue to enjoy exploring it with me.  We met for a walk at the lake this morning and were delighted to see the water completely frozen over.  Not thickly enough to cross as yet, but perfect for ambling along on close to shore, where we could see straight down to the lake bottom under crystal-clear ice.  Here's a view of the lake from the new deck of a cabin that hangs right over the water.  Over the ice, today.  (Lucky the campers who rent this cabin next summer!)

Here's Sue trying to take a video of the hundreds of minnows that clustered close to shore, exploding away at our footfalls above them, faster than we could capture a photo of them.

I loved looking down through the ice at the many-colored stones, their beauty intensified by the crystalline water.

A frozen lake presents many puzzles, such as what caused these bulges of clear ice to form around the base of plant stalks?

Or what caused these jagged patterns of frosted and clear on the surface of the ice? 

Here was an interesting patch of clear dark circles polka-dotting an area of white opaque ice.

The pattern above is just the reverse of what we expect to see.  Usually, ice bubbles are opaque white  as they stack up in layers within the dark clear ice .  We found lots of bubbles like that, each one prettier than the last.

Here was a distinct trail of bubbles that formed as a creature swam under the ice.  And what could that creature be?

Most likely the creature that takes shelter under this heap of sticks and leaves, a muskrat lodge.

Aha!  More evidence that a muskrat has been about, dragging its skinny tail through the slushy ice before it froze hard.

And here is the muskrat in the flesh, resting under the boat dock near the beach.  Of course, it dived into the open water before I could get a closer shot.

At this point, we were more than half-way around the lake, but we had to hurry on so that Sue could get to work on time.  We'd spent a long time dallying on the bridge between the lake and the back bay, marveling at the howls and pings and cracks and groans that lake ice makes as it freezes, sounding like a battle out of Star Wars.  As I said before, we are easily amused.


Elizabeth said...

Fantastic! I love the many different marks that muskrat has left behind. How cool! I saw some of those same large white patches of bubbles under the ice with smaller dark spots on one of my own walks the other day -- I wonder what could've caused that pattern. And I agree... Where's our snow?!

Ontario Wanderer said...

I found your note on "Swamp Things" this morning and thought I would check out your blog. Glad I did! I really enjoyed your Icy Amusements blog and photos.

No snow here in southern Ontario either and I don't think it's been cold enough to freeze any of our lakes. I did venture out a little ways on our pond earlier in the week but did not feel too safe.

Hope I can find the time to go back through more of your blogs. My blogging days are too few and far between these days to be of much interest. Spending way too much time on Flickr and, that being said, I have even missed a few days there. Just too many things to do. Can one retire from retirement?

Carolyn H said...

WW: A winter without snow isn't much fun for me, either. At least you have a lake to play in!

Ellen Rathbone said...

Some great pics! The fifth one looks like a piece of stained glass art!

We are getting (or supposed to get) snow today and tomorrow...we'll send it your way in a couple more days (although the weather map this morning looked like you might get some of your own today).

D'lila said...

I live in Tucson,(but am not native to here)and cannot tell you how much I enjoy your walk/kayak abouts.... I can't wait to read your posts. I miss water and alla things water related. Thank you very much.

Daniel Wall said...

Nice shots of the ice, i dont think your too easily amused I find it all interesting too

Anonymous said...

Right up my alley! We are still tackling blow-downs (now that the cracked tree-top are falling) and miles of systematic, but unauthorized, trail blazing :-(

The variety of ice forms is stunning - and you do such a great job of 'seeing' and sharing. :-)

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by to leave your comments. I had no idea so many folks would share my fascination with ice and its many manifestations. The lake is covered with icy snow now, so I'm lucky I got out there while the surface was so clear.