From there to here, we have come full circle and are once again in springtime. If I think in calendar terms, it was only five weeks ago that my front room view was this.
Now, in mid-May, we can once again see the north shore, and the lake is open, but if you look closely, you can still see a bit of snow on the rooftop.
While we enjoyed temperatures in the mid sixties recently, with one blip up to eighty, we are once again back in a more familiar range. It was about 28 degrees this morning, and I can only imagine that it was a bit chillier than that when fishing officially opened at midnight. Greg said that he heard one boat go down the lake last evening, and it looked to be loaded with camping equipment. Kudos to the hearty souls that carry on the tradition of staying on the islands and in the shoreline campsites. In the past, we would have several cars and trucks parked here for folks who wanted to be as close to the good fishing spots as possible.
On my recent trip to Fairbanks, I got to see spring arrive. Snow was still in piles and patches throughout our son's property, In fact, Addie got to go dogsledding one morning with Robert's wife Amanda. They loaded up the dogs and sleds and drove a short ways to the mountains. She said it was an awesome experience. I stayed up there for two weeks more, and in that time, the snow melted away, mud season came, and the leaves all budded out and popped on the trees. It was amazing to see it happen in such a short stretch. I came back at the beginning of May, and now two weeks in, the buds are still holding tight in most places on our property. Here and there I see a brushstroke of chartreuse on the tree tops, but then the cold wind blows again. My poor tulips (all three of them) are trying hard to open up and be cheerful!
With the mailing of my postcards yesterday, I promised that I would tell the story of what inspired our ice out card for this year. Each winter, we watch the lake cool off on a daily basis, and we wonder if the ice will form in a fashion that will allow for some ice skating. Greg and the kids enjoy getting out there when it is possible. (I gave up skating many years ago--my ankles ache at the thought of it!) Some years back, the whole lake froze overnight, right before Christmas Day. Greg, Paul and Addie were out there as soon as it was just thick enough, and one of the best parts was that the ice not only felt like glass, it looked like it, too. If you missed seeing my Christmas card the next year, we sent it with a link to the movie that Greg put together. You can see that here: Skating the Mirror Ice
This year was a different freeze-up than I recall seeing before. The west half froze several days before the eastern part. The line ran roughly from our point, northwest to the Canadian shore. Ice to the west, wide open water to the east. Once Greg deemed it safe, he was out there skating each day. We never know how long skateable ice will last before a snowfall comes to cover it all up. In this case, the window was short. And at that, the area available to skate was fairly small.
On one adventure, the west wind was blowing quite hard. Greg skated a ways into it, then turned around and headed east, the wind at his back. As he glided along, he noticed movement to his left. He looked over to see an otter not twenty feet away, traveling in the same direction. Greg sped up a bit, and sure enough, the otter followed suit. So Greg increased his speed yet again, aware that not far ahead was the end point for him, where the ice stopped and the open water began. The otter cruised along, too, keeping up the pace. Greg stopped before the edge, but the otter did not. He kept right on going, and slipped easily into the water. Soon, he popped his head up to look and see where Greg was, and if he had jumped in, too. Greg said that it was like the otter was thinking, "C'mon! What's wrong with you, buddy?" In the absence of a camera, Greg just had to fully enjoy the moment and share the memory with us. He said that he thinks the otter was not afraid of him, since it was willing to run so closely to him. Otters are such playful little creatures, he probably just really enjoyed having another being out there to enjoy the new ice with him. Such a rare experience!
So hats off to a new season! More adventures lie ahead for all of us, people and otters alike.