The sound of melting ice

The ice is going out of the lake at my parents’ place.

That’s where I’ve been all weekend.  I suppose I feel slightly guilty for slacking on my self-imposed blogging obligations, though the fact that my mom and dad have no internet connection at home makes it rather difficult to post anything.  I have to hop in the car and drive five minutes down the road to my dad’s office if the guilt gets too great to bear, as it did on Saturday morning, hence the post about speech competitions.  Once that cleared my conscience, though, I went back to lounging in front of the fireplace, hiking through the woods, supervising my son on his mini ATV, and listening to the hauntingly ethereal sound of melting ice.

View from the dock

Yes, melting ice makes a sound – and it’s more than drip drip drip.  In fact, it sounds a lot like music – a strange and ghostly set of chimes.  As the lake water laps against the receding edge of ice, it causes the ice to break into thin little pieces that rattle against each other.  My ever-knowledgeable father informed me that this is the stage called “pencilling,” and, as strange a term as that may be, it makes sense.  The ice sounds like sharp little pencils getting rubbed against each other to create this beautiful sound.  When the wind blows, the sound gets louder, too.

I watched the edge of ice creep closer all day long, from the south-facing to the north-facing shore.  By the time evening fell yesterday, it was almost completely gone.  I went out to the dock and listened.  The chimes were silent.  They won’t be heard again until next spring, and even then, usually only for a single day.  I was happy to have been there this weekend, even just for the ice concert, which I haven’t heard since I was in my early teens.

The day the ice goes out of the lake marks the true beginning of spring.  My dad always writes down the date in his planner.  March 25 is very early; usually it happens at the end of April, though Dad claims it went out at the end of March two years ago: “No one believes me, but I know because I wrote it down.  Funny how quickly people forget the mild weather they make such a big deal out of at the time.”  I believe him.  My dad is meticulous like that.

My brothers’ hockey nets have floated away and will need to be retrieved.  My dad’s construction company, which was just using snowmobiles last week to haul the crew and materials, will now launch its boat.  And maybe – just maybe – we’ll be swimming by May, though guaranteed it will be a bit of a polar dip.

Not the best time for a dip!

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