10 am saturday morning….coming out of Yoga class……ready to “leap tall buildings in a single bound”…. but…. there was that vague itchy-twichy feeling:
I must go down to the ice again
to the sun and the blue, blue sky
where a runner, a skate, or a cleated boot
is the key to a door flung wide
So i chased down the skating gear and headed for the launch at Bog Bridge. Within minutes…..without the slightest networking…three other risk-tolerant skaters arrived…..paul, geoff, and anita….i just adore it when life sends you serendipity like this….before us lay a beautiful plate of ice, punctuated by nasty darker enlarged drain holes, widened open fractures, and a large lead from the inlet of a nearby creek…
we donned skates….paul even had a lifejacket…and we headed out on the glide-y smooth mixed surface….outside the bay, the surface was even better, the drain holes fewer and we headed north in the bright, almost-spring sun and barely perceptible west wind….. we end-ran the first pressure ridge which had solid ice at its west end….gradually our skating strokes lengthened, leaning into the turns, as we scolloped into the extra-smooth bays on the west shore….it was such a treat to watch Geoff, a consummate athlete, hands gripping his ice-chisel behind his back, do that graceful dance of long-distance nordic skating.
we were soon blocked by a wide pressure ridge at Wooster Narrows, which would have required skate removal and a detour ashore…..besides, how much ice did we really need?….so we headed south around Fernald’s Neck…..and began skating east across the broads….the wind was slightly strengthening….and we began that especial bliss of skating downwind, whooping it up as the ecstasy of the ice, sun, and ease took hold. Van Morrison’s song…do you remember it?….sprung to mind:
we were born…..before the wind
also younger…..than the sun
ere the bonny boat was won
as we sailed…..into the mystic
that raspy voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEvsDuJYEnI
yet as we skated, i noticed cracks were propagating ahead of us….unlike early-ice fractures which flash out in straight lines, these followed artistic zig-zaggy patterns….i ruminated, in half-esctasy: ….this must mean that the ice structure is changing….this must mean this ice is beginning to “pencil”, changing to vertical grain….this must mean….what the heck are we doing here????….but….
but…for now we were safe, and we skated to the “stairs to flagpole” pressure ridge we knew from the week before….the others, time-constrained, turned back….I stepped across the open crack ….and for a brief 10 minute…i braved skating alone…until a sensible fear gripped me and, turning west, I followed our scratches back to the launch….
In the mid-afternoon i returned and rigged the skate sail….but within minutes, distracted by maneuvering the bulky sail, one skate slipped into a drain hole and down i went…a half hour of careful sailing later, i happily de-rigged, and counted my blessings…how sad, sad, these next months! …yet….. what a swan-song!