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A WINTER FREEZE BRINGS GOLDEN MOMENTS <br> PASSING TIME, AND PUCKS, ON SILVER PONDS

I don't know the exact word that should be used for the unique sound skates make on pond ice when it's really cold. It's a mixture of a sort of scraping and crunching amplified by the drum-tight expanse of frozen surface. I pondered what word might describe it while listening to my son's blades on the pond yesterday as I laced up my skates. Then I promptly forgot about it as I chased him around the perimeter, adding to the frozen music. Call it what you will, it's the sound of fun.

We had been waiting last week for January to cooperate and refreeze the pond. When it finally got cold enough, the pond itself seemed to resist. One side sheeted over with ice, but the other, worked by the wind, stubbornly stayed open.

We could see the difference when we skated. The first ice is cloudy gray; the later stuff is clear, probably the result of the subzero air. The surface between is rough but easy to step over.

We whacked a puck back and forth until it started to get dark. "This must be the Canadian equivalent of playing catch," he quipped.

The turn of the weather has given people something to talk about. When I was at the store in town I asked Nick, a peach grower, if the quick freeze was a threat to next summer's crop. He said the 40-degree drop wasn't healthy but the buds probably had weathered it. I sure hope so, for a peachless July is unappealing.

It may be 5 degrees, but I still enjoy working outside. Yesterday I was busy making a gate for the calf pen with 2-by-6s we had sawed from the woods. You don't have to take off your gloves to handle spikes, so working isn't unpleasant.

One of the great advances of the 20th century was the perfection of the insulated coverall. I have no idea who first develop the IC, but he or she deserves a monument. The garment is as convenient as it is comfortable. Pull up one zipper and you're ready to take on Old Man Winter. Wear a hooded sweat shirt under an IC and you're ready for the North Pole.

I'm rough on my ICs and have to get a new one every second winter. My current unit has a nifty receptacle for pencils sewn on the sleeve. This is handy when you need to write down a measurement, or you get a literary inspiration. Maybe I'll go whole-hog next year and get my name embroidered over the chest pocket. You know you've made it when you have that.

The diesel tractor didn't share my enthusiasm for working in the cold, however, and I had to plug in the block heater. After a few hours of this, it still just sputtered. I disconnected the fuel line and found nothing but a few drops of red diesel fuel. A little compressed air cleared the line, after which the engine woke up. Apparently it's time to dose the fuel tanks with one of those little bottles of white lightning that every merchant has sitting on the counter these frigid days.

Kathleen decided to keep one of the puppies from Gretchen's recent litter, and we got down to the serious business of deciding on the dog's name. How the pooch ended up with Finnegan is a story as long as the name itself. Only time will tell if the charming mutt will end up nicknamed Finny or Egan. Whichever the pudgy pup answers best to, I suppose.

I took Finnegan for a walk late this afternoon. He liked everything about it but the leash. Every tuft of grass poking out of the snow had to be investigated. He had to run in a circle to see if the two-legged creature at the other end of the leash could be wrapped up. Finnegan had to find out how his yelp sounded in the cold air of dusk.

If he concluded that the frozen world was a wonderful place, I agreed with him completely.

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