If it wasn't gale-force winds or pouring rain or below-zero cold, it was holiday busyness -- shopping, cleaning, cooking, entertaining -- that kept me indoors for way too long this past week and more. I was coming down with a serious case of nature-deficit disorder when I invited my visiting grandkids to come up to Moreau Lake with me on Saturday afternoon. The temps were a balmy low-30s and the wind was still, and thankfully, the kids had brought their winter clothing, so off we went together. As soon as I saw my beloved lake gleaming like a pearl under a sky the color of Carrera marble I could feel all weariness leaving me and joy begin to rise.
Due to several very cold nights, I had expected the lake might be frozen over, but except for the coves, the water remained wide open in the main part of the lake. Ah, but next to the shore, we found thin sheets of clear ice, much to the children's delight.
What a joy it is, to see how children take such delight in this phenomenon that many adults ignore or disdain. You might have thought I had turned them loose in the world's best toy store, to hear their excited shouts and see their experimental interactions with the glass-clear ice. They found sticks to poke it and see the water well up through the holes, tossed snowballs on it to watch them smash into dozens of skittering pieces, dared each other to walk out as far as they could before the ice crashed below their feet, and skidded along on the very slippery surface.
Even big sister Maya joined in the fun with her brothers Sean and Alex.
I, too, took much delight in the icy shore, although my delight was mostly related to the aesthetic pleasures to be found when water interacts with freezing temperatures. It was fun to see how water droplets formed polka dots on the underside of this thin sheet of ice.
In places, the ice formed a filigree edge as lovely as any lace.
Here was a series of crystalline columns formed along a fallen branch.
I loved the warm ruddy color of these frozen oak leaves outlined in ice.
Oh boy, did we ever have fun when we came to this patch of cattails with pods packed tight with seeds just waiting to be turned into clouds of fluff when we twisted them open.
The seeds are packed in under such pressure that a simple twist of the pod finds them exploding out in writhing snakes of expanding fluff.
We found some other fluffy stuff, too, when we discovered this cluster of Wooly Alder Aphids. I was quite surprised to find them still adhered to this alder twig, after many freezing, even sub-zero nights. I'm afraid they had died from the cold, since they did not move when I touched them, although their protective "wool" was still intact.
We were much luckier than those aphids, for as soon as we started to get cold, Moreau Lake State Park's warming hut awaited us, with a roaring fire and toasty-warm interior.
While Maya warmed her cold feet by the fire, brothers Sean and Alex found the children's games that the hut is stocked with, along with many books for both children and adults. There are also a couple of comfy couches there, inviting visitors to settle in for a good read (or maybe even a short nap).
Twilight falls early now, and soon we had to head home. But I had to stop for one last look at this beautiful lake, so serene and lovely in every season.