Monday, February 01, 2010

The ice sang to me

The past weekend started out very cold. On Saturday the temperature never got above 15 degrees, with snow squalls and a bone-chilling rawness to the air. So on Sunday when the sun came out, and temperature went above 20 degrees, it was time to come out of my burrow and go for a walk.

I decided to visit Pinchot State Park, just a few miles from Roundtop. It’s a small change in scenery, as the forest looks much the same as Roundtop’s forest. Pinchot has a nice, big lake, though, and I wanted at least a little change from my own woods.

The warmer air felt wonderful, the sun even better. By noontime, the air temperature was nearing the mid-20’s, and the ice began to sing. It sounded like whales singing, with whistles and long groans, a few pops, the occasional snapping of a whip. But mostly it was low, deep groans, as the sun did its work.

It was enough to worry the small group of ice fishermen spread out on the lake. Some headed for the shore, most moved closer to the shore, a few dug new holes, rechecking the depth of the ice to assure it was still okay. They all seemed more nervous once the singing started.

I thought it was a beautiful sound, music to accompany my walk. The sound followed me even when I wasn’t next to the lake. I could always hear it in the distance. Up close, the sound reverberated all around me, an unexpected symphony.

I stayed longer than I’d planned. The concert went on an on, and I didn’t want to leave.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I love your beautiful description. I've only ever heard the loud cracks on super cold days.

Cicero Sings said...

I've never heard the sounds of singing ice ... I hope to one day.

It has been gray both down at the coast and in the interior this year. Usually, when we are at home in the Cariboo, we get sunshine almost every day ... at least some. This year, gray, gray, gray ... and little snow to show for it to boot.

Woodswalker said...

Growing up on a lake in Michigan, I knew those sounds. They sound scary, but usually they mean the ice is freezing and expanding, so they don't mean you'll fall through any minute. Just the opposite. But it is disconcerting to watch (and hear!) a crack shoot across the lake and between your legs!

Carolyn H said...

Lynn: i've heard cracks both on cold days and on warming-up days. But i've never heard quite the concert that this one was.

Carolyn H.

Carolyn H said...


I wonder if this ice was singing because we had a sudden very cold spell and this was the first time the temperature went above 32 after that spell? I don't know, but it was pretty nifty.

Carolyn h.

Carolyn H said...

Woodswalker, I've heard those sounds on very cold nights--once when I was camping on ice on a lake in upstate New York. Got to -18 that night and the ice sounded more like cracking that singing. This was singing, a bit like whales, a bit like a musical saw, and it was as the temperature was rising. And the temperature was rising rather quickly, since it was 11 in the a.m. and nearly 30 by noon-ish.

Carolyn H.

Elora said...

How fascinating! Your experience called up memories from my husband. Growing up in Denver, he recalled the huge skating "parties' (everyone in the region invited!!) and the sounds you described were common, he said. And, apparently, nobody paid attention. I would love to hear the sounds! Thank you for the lovely description!