December had been lean for iceboating, and I knew I would be driving out to Michigan to help my 99-year-old mother discharge from her fracture-induced hospitalization….gosh, this season might just be a wash-out…..so I prayed with especial fervor for a royal ice-capade send-off before I drove that 3000 mile round trip.
And there it was: 5 glorious days on Pushaw…..iceboating that happens only once every few seasons…..the memory sparkles…..6.5 north-south miles….sun and wind every day….lots of buddies….and a quality of ice—is it my fading memory?—tha I only remember twice before….and now, back from Michigan, ice-hungry again….why didn’t I sail Pushaw more? I could have skated those 13 miles at the end of each sailing day….but then, if you’ve been eating steak all day, could you face another one at 3 PM?….no, as the French say, ‘hunger makes the sauce’
This morning….7 AM….rosy patina on the Camden Hills….somehow the night-time temps had jelled 99% of yesterdays puddles….wind predicted 10-20 west….Pushaw is a tough act to follow…this 7+ grade ice might be a comedown, but I hurried back home for the trailer. Eventually, I pushed Icywood out of the lee of the Davy Jones’, into the open broads:
the sail swung over to the down-wind side
with a bump and crunch the runners glide
i vaulted in to my cozy nest
jerked the sheet to my gasping chest
i thanked the stars that i’m still upright
wheelchairs and walkers not in sight
but someday soon they’ll ring my bell
around my coffin, stories tell
the yarns will spin, the bottles pass
til someone shouts, with empty glass
“let’s lift the lid, let’s all have peeks”
Holy smoke!….he’s wearing cleats”
you can tell where my mind has been lingering…..this sunny morning was just the antidote….stopped for tea in my favorite sunny spots….enough wind to explore, luffing off the higher speeds, as i looked over the usual trouble spots in this variegated lake…. finally finding beautiful grade 10 ice right up at the far north end. As I stitched back downwind the 3 mile length, what a shock: there was Bill in his DN, just pulling out of the cove. Darmariscotta, his earlier destination, had been too rough…
so now the day was complete: a buddy to share the experience….what’s more, with me in a Whizz rig, and Bill in a DN, I just might have my day. Adrenalin pumping, we match-raced north, he always just ahead….but then….and this is exactly what happens with the Whizz rig….when the boat is already moving fast, some additional turbo kicks in….and I blasted thru Chaney’s Narrows with Bill far behind. That hasn’t happened in years!
by 2PM the wind was dropping, so I helped Bill de-rig and make for his iceboat talk in Cambridge, Mass. then I could linger, de-rigging slowly, alone, as the light mellowed….we often compare iceboating to love-making….in both cases, as we age…..it doesn’t take much quantity….but quality…..those occasional special times…..and after comes a calm….what’s that verse?….now let thy servant depart in peace….for my eyes have seen thy salvation….