skating the last encore–jan 28, 2013

The weather prediction is for “mixed aggrivation”: a mysterious blend of snow, sleet–now called ‘ice pellets–and rain which lowers the curtain on an endless, amazing, frigid, sunny spell of ice activities. My other life has been on hold for almost two weeks: handyman jobs postponed, iceboat repairs neglected, household cleanliness–in Brenda’s words–“disgusting”.

So Lloyd and I headed to Darmiscotta to examine the base which will underlie the additions and subtractions that the thaw might bring. Coming to this lake, which we have followed closely this year, is revisiting much-loved and holy ground. Darmiscotta looked like a bad case of small-pox, with smoothed hard-candy bumps well-melted into the semi-transparent surface. We could see the season’s history in it’s patterns: here were previous snow patches, there that lovely central plate of black ice we got so excited about but missed using, over there the black and white frozen ice squares–all still visible below the poxy covering. We laboriously chopped the black ice plate, as being the thinest ice on the lake, and found it a monolithic 8″.

Lloyd was zipping ahead on John Eastman’s ice bicycle, as I labored on nordic skates over the fast, but humpy surface. We stopped near an icehouse, in the geometric center of the north broads, where each horizon is at least a mile away and sat munching grainola bars. These are the moments I always treasure. The slight high-altitude haze didn’t diminish the intensity of the daily-stronger sun. Not the slightest breath of wind. The nearby shack only emphasized the great half-dome–the wide, now-friendly, open universe which holds us in its cradle.

Lloyd lectured on the 10 foot trajectory of blood, which would shoot from a severed femoral artery. We calculated how much pressure was needed to staunch the flow: about 10 pounds. “Don’t cut that artery!”, Lloyd shouted. We were wearing hearing-diminishing helmets. Hanging out with an ex-MD, you get such great free medical advice. “I’m not planning to”, I countered with a bow of thanks…

Joy of joys, Lloyd found a flooded N-S pressure ridge in its usual place near the western shore, which gave me gloriously smooth skating more than half-way back. We said good-by to our wonderful hosts at the launch, and headed home, to catch up on dull old regular life and await developments. But we know…’s far from over.


P.S. Holy Smokes! Root around on the Darmiscotta Lake Watershed Association’s website. What a gold mine! You might even see their webcam.

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