As I look out of our picture window next to the fireplace I see grandchildren skating on the lake. The time has finally arrived. The lake is frozen!
Since the beginning of December younger ones have been asking, “Is the lake frozen yet?” In the early years the answer would have been ”Yes.” By the end of December trucks could drive across the lake. Not anymore. Now the freezing is slow and only a partial freeze can be seen at the end of the month. It may begin with a skim of ice on the end near the Millpond or perhaps at the far end where the lake narrows into the Spuyton Dyvil and the beaver dam easily stretches from side to side. Even as January approaches, in various sections of Brant Lake there is still an influx of running water and no one would venture offshore. Now, finally, as we enter mid-January the lake is completely frozen with the exception of areas near docks where systems maintain a constant flow of water so the docks will not freeze. The children can now ask “is the lake frozen?” And the answer will be yes.
Why do dwellers in the North Country anticipate the frozen lake? Well, for the children they can skate and play ice hockey. Ice fishermen install small huts with radiators, bottles of beer and, for those with the perseverance to brave the cold for an extended period, an occasional portable television. These huts, a refuge from the weather, will remain until the spring as many with winter beards the color of snow pull in perch, trout and pickerel. And for those who don’t want to skate or fish, snowmobiles inherit a vast open space where they can pollute the fresh winter air.
I also wait for winter but my enthusiasm for the freeze derives from a different source. Winter has finally arrived and that means only one thing: As the poet said ”If winter comes can spring be far behind?” All of our lives are filled with periods of winter, not only our frozen lake. Who has not felt the cold of loss, sickness, of dreams lying shattered, or, at the present time, fears of the pandemic. But without winter there cannot be spring, a time of renewed warmth and awakening. So I welcome the frozen lake as the transition point for life to open for another year.
Is the lake frozen yet? I join the chorus asking for another year’s freeze and then I wait in grateful anticipation for the thaw.
The seasons follow in the inevitable cycle of life.