the honor of iceboating in one’s dotage

the monday after…..musing over morning toast and tea….i’m religious this morning….what an absolute honor to be doing this in my mid-70’s….i just can’t bow low enough in gratitude….we had all the four corner foundations of iceboating on this last “chercher la glace” trip to Quebec.

Ice: it was basically smooth with occational dry scabs and 75% covered by unbonded snow drifts…..Denis Guertin, our host, had sent us a photo of the lake prior to the present snowfall….the kind of seductive photo which should be outlawed!…..seeing it, we were goners…..

Wind: blowing with a background of 15 knots, with gusts to about 30…every iceboater will know that this is no-mans-land….snow whirlwinds visible everywhere….all day long, you could SEE, by the blowing snow, what the wind was doing…..occasional whiteout conditions….runners covered with ice….boat feeling on the edge of control 75% of the time….when we looked at the lake for the first time–a lake 1 mile by 1/2 mile– ANY SANE PERSON would have headed for the lodge, the fire, and a good book.

Buddies: here we were super blessed…..part of my bow of gratitude, is having these amazing buddies….each of the five of us an unusual creature worth spending time with. Bill…who was out in front of my house at 6AM hitching up my trailer for a 4 hour drive….i’m treated like a pasha….he’s a consumate craftsman, raconteur, high-liver, and a totally devoted iceboater…..Lee Spiller, craftsman in stone, soft-water sailer….devoted caretaker of an ailing wife….a man whose slow reflective speech bespeaks utmost integrity and honesty….Dave Fortier…probably the most meticulous craftsman I will ever meet….persevering against all odds….and Denis….Denis….here I grow mute….I cannot describe the realized humanity of this man….kind….generous…in a manner distinctively French….again a thorough craftsman… traveling with every tool and part you could need, with a massive efficient trailer housing two whizzes and two DN’s….an ex-snowmobiler….consumate ice-spy….devoted father…french-speaker…

The situation: The fourth foundation, sometimes missing, is a wonderful overall situation…. it can be the amazing beauty….or the utter wildness….or the auxiliary context of the actual iceboating….here we were housed in an almost-european Inn….hovered over and mothered over by Madam, who cooked us warm-your-bones meals, weaved on her nearby loom while we played pool….anticipated every need….all with a naturalness one seldom sees…

but probably I’m mostly mellow….mostly stoned…..by our having gone together….gone to the very edge, the very limit of danger. please view again Denis’s U-tube and stop frame on 1:14 minutes….and stare at it:

https://youtu.be/GOmCeicwc88

that’s Bill….with a storm sail borrowed from Denis…. faintly visible in the blizzard….we’re headed to the downwind, south end of the lake….and the unanswered question: can we possibly round up at this breakneck speed….will the runners hold against a spin-out?….will the bow runner answer the helm to bear off a lee shore?….perhaps it was the wild, blowing snow, giving only partial visibility….but as i watched this exact moment from just upwind….something clicked in: THIS… is the very limit….the cliff-edge of sanity…..HERE…you could die content…

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2 Responses to the honor of iceboating in one’s dotage

  1. Beautiful writing. I love it.

    Thank you.

    Steven Walsh Boulder, Colorado

    >

  2. Denis Guertin says:

    Wow Jory… I did not even see it when I made the video … Very good observation !! Denis

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