It was obvious, from all the foot tracks covering the lake, that plenty of folks beside me have been daring the cold out here, although I didn't see many of them today. I stopped to talk to a couple of guys who'd been fishing through the ice all day, so far without much luck. I don't know how they do it, standing out here on the ice, exposed to the cold for hours and hours, and not seeming to mind that they hadn't yet hauled out a fish. They actually seemed quite cheerful, happy to chat with a visitor for a while.
Not everyone I met today was cheerful, though. The first fellow I met was cradling his mangled little West Highland Terrier, while telling a sheriff's deputy about how the poor little dog had been viciously attacked by two Golden Retrievers, dogs that had been running off the leash. Moreau Lake State Park, as do all state parks, has a policy that all dogs must be leashed at all times, a regulation that many dog walkers, unfortunately, rarely observe.
As I continued my walk around the lake, I encountered another dog walker whose two dogs were running free, and I thought I would do him the favor of warning him that the sheriff had been called to the park because of the injured-dog incident, and so he had best put his dogs on a leash before the sheriff caught them. Oh boy, you'd think I had slandered his mother! Who was I to tell him to leash his dogs?! OK, I'll let the sheriff tell you, I said, and he only scoffed: "I used to be one of them. They'll give me a pass." And he walked away, dogs still running free, and tossing this comment back over his shoulder at me: "You must be a Hillary voter." And again: "If I was a black guy, you'd never have approached me." Both comments flung at me as if they were the worst insults he could think of. Well, I never waste my time arguing with surly bastards, so I didn't bother to tell him I'd voted for Bernie, or that my own grandchildren were half-black: two factors that would have made me even worse in this belligerent Trumpster's opinion. Deciding to not waste any emotion on this ridiculous encounter, I continued around the lake, eager to let nature's beauty wipe that fellow's ugliness from my mind.
By the time I reached the back bay of the lake, the sun was sinking low, casting long blue shadows across the frozen expanse.
The longer those shadows grow, the colder the temperature falls. It was time to pick up my pace toward home, stopping off in the park's warming hut to thaw out my face by the roaring fire. What a great addition this hut has made for enhancing winter hiking at Moreau Lake State Park.
I got a brand-new camera for Christmas, a Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II, and I was hoping to find some pretty things to test out its macro function, but not much suitable material presented itself to me today. I did think this leftover Wild Mint plant was gracefully interesting, even if it presented little challenge to my new camera.
My old camera has a setting just to diminish the blue cast in photos of snow, but my new camera doesn't have that setting. I have to adjust the color in my computer program instead. Even when I do, the blue predominates. I have lots to learn about what my new camera can do. Meanwhile, it did manage to capture the tracks that a little mouse made as it hopped along a trough in the snow beneath a fallen tree. This log, I imagine, provides sure protection from swooping owls.
I sure wish the park's dog-leashing regulation had protected that little Westie from being attacked by Retrievers.