It’s a cool May morning here on Gunflint Lake, a few days before the fishing season is scheduled to open. The snow has finally melted away, save for a few piles and drifts in the shaded woods. The temps are in the high forties, and in today’s case, it is cloudy with rain due. How many years has it been now, that I’ve seen mornings like this? Thirty-two, actually. And in that time, I have only seen the ice still on the lake for perhaps three.
Yes, we seem to have a year once again where the ice is hanging around longer than most of us would like. It’s always a guessing game as to when it will go, and the lake will be open water again. In my early years, the neighbors would start an ice-out pool in March. For a buck, you could put your date down. The parameter to be met was that one could navigate from the west end near Cross River, all the way to the east end beach, which meant travel in to Little Gunflint. That was the destination that most fishermen sought, the smaller, and thus warmer, water of the next lake over. One year, I was fortunate enough to guess correctly, and for me, it truly was a guess. It was my second spring here, and I was pregnant. My winnings went towards yarn, to weave a blanket for the new baby.
We no longer have an ice pool, and I have not ventured to put down a guess of any sorts. Greg took the bold step of writing May 15 on the black board in our store, about six weeks ago. He could very well be correct. The color of the ice, my best judge of what is going on, has been progressing mostly steadily in the proper direction, from white to grey, and now to black in a few places. I can detect some shifting in the ice mass, another good sign. We are finally seeing the ice pull away from shore, and last evening, it was wonderful to stand down at the lake’s edge to observe the rocks under the surface. If we get some rain this afternoon, that will help. This morning, I heard the loons do a fly-over, indicating that they are as anxious as we are.
But to the age-old question of when it actually will go out? The only answer that comes to mind is “We’ll see.”