Monday, January 26, 2015

Ice, Thrice

January 3, 2015
Moreau Lake State Park

Part Two : The Lake

Two days later, having a weekend day available,
I returned to Moreau Lake and met Jackie there.
I wanted to show her those cool formations on Zen Brook.
It was a cloudy, still morning, damply cold, but we were bundled up tightly, prepared to stay out for a few hours.
The Warming Hut would be our final stop. 
We parked our cars in the main lot, and walked down the hill –
and lo and behold  --the Big Lake had finally frozen over solid !

Zen Brook would have to wait.
Who can resist being able to walk on water?

The pond had in the meanwhile skimmed over
 in the shadiest and shallowest coves,
some days or even weeks
before the general freezing.
The first ice is especially interesting and perfect,
being hard, dark, and transparent,
and affords the best opportunity that ever offers
for examining the bottom where it is shallow;
for you can lie at your length on ice
only an inch thick, 

like a skater insect on the surface of the water,
and study the bottom at your leisure,
only two or three inches distant,
like a picture behind a glass,
and the water is necessarily always smooth then.

There are many furrows in the sand where some creature has travelled about
and doubled on its tracks…

But the ice itself is the object of most interest,
though you must improve the earliest opportunity to study it.

If you examine it closely the morning after it freezes,
you find that the greater part of the bubbles,
which at first appeared to be within it,
are against its under surface,
and that more are continually rising from the bottom;

while the ice is as yet comparatively solid and dark,
that is, you see the water through it.
These bubbles are from an eightieth to an eighth of an inch in diameter,
very clear and beautiful,
and you see your face reflected in them through the ice.

There may be thirty or forty of them to a square inch.

There are also already within the ice narrow oblong perpendicular bubbles
about half an inch long, sharp cones with the apex upward;
or oftener, if the ice is quite fresh,
minute spherical bubbles one directly above another,
like a string of beads.
     HDT, Walden “House-Warming” 1854

Our pal Laurie appeared, having walked in from her house at the north end of the Park. 

She, Jackie and I spent quite some time admiring the various textures on the surface of the ice

(click to see detail in all of these)

... and the assortment of bubbles and cracks below, 

(champagne, anyone?)

(galaxies of tiny bubbles)

(X marks the spot)

(side fins in a crack)

(like silvery foil)

(and combinations thereof !)

                                      (how did this even happen?)

We are so easily entertained ... 

On the way out, we stopped back at the Warming Hut.
Laurie, ever-prepared, produced a surprise from her pack -- some delicious foil-wrapped goodies that she had brought to toast in the fireplace there.

More from  “House-Warming”:
The next winter I used a small cooking-stove
for economy,
since I did not own the forest;
but it did not keep fire so well as the open fireplace.
Cooking was then, for the most part,
no longer a poetic,
but merely a chemic process.
It will soon be forgotten, in these days of stoves,
that we used to roast potatoes in the ashes,
after the Indian fashion.
The stove not only took up room
and scented the house,
but it concealed the fire,
and I felt as if I had lost a companion.
You can always see a face in the fire.


  1. Sue, that's an incredible look at ice and ice bubbles in the lake! I've never seen anything like it.

  2. well as you can see, we get right up close to look at it -- my poor camera was very confused in focusing on different layers -- but hopefully it shows some of the variety we saw that day

  3. this world is so little known and so beautiful. good for you to be there and capture it.

  4. hey corky is that really you ? what are you up to these days?
    are you still in sunny florida, where ice is indeed a rare treat?