Last night I stopped at the bait shop for the minnows I needed today. “So where ya headed?”
I mention I’m gonna fish the new ice. I was told point blank I was a dang fool.
We were out on the ice very early this morning.... pre-sunrise. The sheet we hiked was cast and set hard with nights and days of below zero temps. Wind chills that froze water so quickly it’s crystal clear through its six inches of air-bubbled, incased and slightly pocked pane.
At just a mile from shore, disjointed blades of edges, knifed shards heaved; fence us from hiking out further. The ice pack has its mortal limits and we have reached it. To watch the day safely start from here is to be bound by the rule. Pack ice is to be looked upon, not walked on. The flat meets the fractured, stay on one, become not the other.
Open lake winds snapped off the thin, hastily formed ice chips, waves ground at reforming edges. With the winter’s final arctic blasting of air and Lake Superior’s waters of hidden violence working together, massive plates of solid blocked and blue ice erupted, shattered and merciless, wind-chilled air welded them in place, sculpturing ice, literally fusing the flash frozen.
Fissures, as if not wanting or wishing a separation, frosted themselves closed in geometric trapezoidal grids that take my eyes skating about all this cracked yet smooth ice. In the past few days the angry ice became tired. Now so quiet in this morning, soon to be break of silent day. I add no noise as I exhale and the warm lungs’ vapors disappear just as quietly. Yesterday’s ice was dangerous, today’s ice is the same ice, but we will fish.
A foaming whisp of pink from the east... So muted in distance....Stretching, earning its pastels as the black night yields way. It’s lacing itself across the ice, as if softened, earthen color, today’s watercolor pallet is to paint over the black of darkest night.
A single bristle of rinsed pink is the first brush stroke. The very concept of color, as if it could demand its easel and artist, is lining the hues of silver ice mated to a shade of grey steel in the contrasting sky.
Now is the tint of blue, specular reflection of sky and ice, not on taut canvas but across a vast frozen white sheet of ice set from arctic air, framed and matted of ice, and I was sitting in it.
It’s just me and a fishing buddy, and yet I’m struck, it’s an active thing to be in a sunrise, to have it envelop me. Then, it is daylight...Whoooooooooosh. I am awash in brilliant sunlight. The day did what a day does and time made me depart. I’m walking back now to solid ground and my steps hike me over the ice.
Below my feet, here, just an eye’s gaze of depth away is fossils of air. I want to dig out one perfect bubble of frozen air in a piece of ice, now how silly is that? The trout whisperer