Ice inspires poetry: dreaming of it, anticipating it, sailing it, regretting it, cherishing its rarity….there are just sometimes you have to break into pentameters…..prose won’t contain the feelings.
Our season starts in October with anticipation and the intrusion of dreams. Soon we will be checking the thin ice with micrometers on our ‘first freezers’, the ponds which are shallower, at higher altitude, or north of us. Sterling Pond is an almost mystical little pond at high altitude in Vermont.
November’s Dream by Jory Squibb
They say that old men dream of beasts, and things we did of yore.
I sometimes dream of Bounty Bay, and the girls we knew ashore
And sometimes too of the forty nights and the lonely lonely days
Between Madeira and New York, when a ship seems locked in stays
And now life’s fire more slowly burns–is it strange that I should dream
Of tiny alpine Sterling Pond, that these eyes have never seen?
I called the ski resort nearby, my question soon was quelled
A worker there excited told: the little pond had jelled!
I called a buddy, next morn at 6, we hustled West and soon
We parked the car at Smuggler’s Notch, just as my watch read noon.
A fool’s trip–the odds were slim–in a land of famous snow,
That a pond could grow a three-inch plate, before a flake could blow
And let’s just say we both get wet, with November’s early night
We’d never retrace the snowy trail, and get our car in sight
But sometimes when those cautious thoughts will come and threaten a stall
Some primal urge from deep within, will trump them one and all.
So up we hiked with skates and axe, crossed the final ridge at one
Came ’round a bend, and found at last, the reason we had come
I’ve seen lakes blue in a summer’s sun, or rippled grey with wind
I’ve seen them sparkle, dazzling white–twin lenses needed then.
But now I sat on the rocky shore, the tears would not stay back
That I should in old age be blessed to see this glistening black.
I scanned the lake, shaped like a “T”, and saw from shore to shore
There was no gap, no rippled gap, in the ice I stood before.
At last I swung my ice-axe down and saw that star-shaped crack
I swung again and heard the slurp that two inch ice speaks back.
And so we sat on our private rock, and opened the snacks and rum
And thanked our stars–Oh, what the Hell!–we sure were glad we’d come
One of our early members of the CIBC, Larry Hardmann wrote a wonderful poem for this time of year, as we anticipate the cold to come:
Down from his frozen lair,
It’s then we sleep in covers deep
and shiver upon the stair.
It’s then some curse their northern berth
In Earthship’s stinging air,
And dream of spring, when songbirds sing,
and the land is sweet and fair.
But not us guys with goggled eyes
And helmets on our hair!
We like the ice, rough or nice,
Here, or way out there.
We like wool socks, we iceboat jocks,
We like the land that’s bare.
We like a gale, a straining sail,
The spring it is a bore.
And, about all we get from the fall
Is thinking what’s in store!
When timber’s in the ‘ol wood bin,
And felt is on the door,
It’s a lot funner to sharpen a runner
Than any other chore.
The temperature’s seven? To us, that’s heaven.
We wish for seven below.
We disdain thermometer gain,
And we despise the snow.
Sleek as an otter smooth, hard water.
In glee we watch it grow.
The pond it skims. The lake it rims.
We take a step and Oh!
We hear it crack. We jump back,
And wait a day or so.
Two knuckles deep, then on we’ll creep,
And RACING we will go!
Then our first season opens, the Black Ice Season from late November to about January 10. We often spend part of it on nearby Plymouth Pond, but also take road trips we call ‘cherchez la glace’ trips to other parts of New England. This snippet is from Massabesic Lake in NH:Massabesic……430PM…
drop the sail….
we’ve lived the tale….
to carry to the shore….
as runners sing no more….
nor strain against the gale…
and the lake….
the purple sky….
darkens on the joys…
a day out with the boys….
now ending with a sigh…