Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Parlor of the Fishes

January 5, 2013
Moreau Lake State Park, NY

Then to my morning work.
First I take an axe and pail and go in search of water,
if that be not a dream. …
Standing on the snow-covered plain,
as if in a pasture amid the hills,
I cut my way first through a foot of snow,
and then a foot of ice,
and open a window under my feet,
where, kneeling to drink,
I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes,
pervaded by a softened light
as through a window of ground glass,
with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer;
there a perennial waveless serenity reigns
as in the amber twilight sky,
corresponding to the cool and even temperament
of the inhabitants.

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
   HDT, Walden, “The Pond in Winter”

A visit to Moreau Lake began and ended with fishes today.
It had been a while since either of us had been over to the Big Lake, so Jackie and I decided to meet there today when we heard that it had finally frozen over.

Once there are 4 inches of ice, you just can’t keep the ice-fisherman off the lake.
It was a pretty popular place to be this weekend, since many other local fishing-spots are still open water.

We came not to fish, but instead, cut across one end of the lake to get to the Red Oak Trail. 
Jackie laughs at my skittishness, as I realize that I am walking over deep water.
Well at least today, the ice wasn't making any noises!  Still, it's a somewhat sobering concept, especially since the ice is varied, with all sorts of holes and cracks.

(By the way, my mother's back is just fine!)
Returning to dry land, we headed up the trail. The trees were striped with snow, which must have blown in from the east the other day.

We stopped at Zen Brook - which is still tumbling freely down the hillside, creating lacy frills of ice here and there.

I become fascinated by the edges where two worlds meet – in this case, solid and liquid.

After some time at the Brook, we had an appointment with a Tree with large buds, whose identity was a disputed subject. That cleared up once we saw the telltale fuzz surrounding the buds, which form in late fall – it was as we had suspected, a shadbush.

But we couldn’t stay away from the Lake for long. The sun was shining, and folks were fishing, walking dogs, skating and generally enjoying the thin warmth of the day.

As we walked along the sunny shoreline, I saw an insect fly by – and took his photo when he landed on the snow. Can anyone identify him?

And nearby, what looked like a giant version (1/8 inch long) of a springtail.
(I have enlarged him for detail)

The ice on the lake was almost snow-free, and full of curious spidery shapes (which we were careful to avoid)

Some like comets

Some like eyes

And some that were full of bubbly jewels, if you got down close to observe them.

As if jealous of all this attention turned downward, the Sky himself put on a show for us.
From the northwest, there suddenly appeared clouds of such dramatic shapes

they were impossible to ignore

After some sky-gazing, it was time to call it a day.
And what a day it was !

We walked slowly, stalling, like kids not ready to come in for dinner.

We stopped to chat with a few of the fishermen, who patiently answered our questions. Some of them had been here since before sunrise --
and you know, some things have not changed since Thoreau’s time …

Early in the morning,
while all things are crisp with frost,
men come with fishing-reels and slender lunch,

and let down their fine lines through the snowy field
to take pickerel and perch;

wild men,
who instinctively follow other fashions
and trust other authorities than their townsmen,
and by their goings and comings
stitch towns together
in parts where else they would be ripped.

They sit and eat their luncheon in stout fear-naughts
on the dry oak leaves on the shore,
as wise in natural lore
as the citizen is in artificial.

   HDT, Walden, “The Pond in Winter”


  1. Lovely story, photos, but most of all, the HDT verse. Thanks!

  2. Oh Sue, it's always such a joy to revisit our jaunts through your beautiful blog. The Thoreau quotes are always appropriate and connect our little adventures to the ages.