Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Annual Break-Up

Come think of it, the spring ushered in a most spectacular transition every year, and I now regret taking it for granted: the disappearance of The Ice on Sandy Pond. God could really put on a show with this.

I understand that The Ice on the pond was unusually clear prior to it's break-up this year, and there were some fools out fishin' on it up to just a week before it slid under the whitecaps on a blustery day.

It always takes a blustery day to usher The Ice out. There were often some "icebergs" remaining after the blow that gave me an opportunity for play many years ago...

This was emailed to me by Denise Yerdon (Miles). Apparently these fools were fishin on this ice-raft on Oneida Lake...

Women can be foolish too, believe it or not! (I mean this in a GOOD way...)

When I was about 12 or 13 yr. old and ignorant and I'm sure my Dad would have tanned my hide if he ever knew that I did this:

I would motor out to the ice floe and push the the huge slabs around for no good reason. I'd motor the boat up onto them part-ways and climb out on to the rafts. Some people fished from them. I would even try to break up the thin ones, imagining I was piloting an ice-breaker through an Alaskan seascape. It was glorious!

All this activity was accomplished with me piloting my intrepid Lonestar 14' aluminum boat that weighed maybe 150 lb. The Lonestar was equipped with a massive 4 1/2 horsepower Johnson 2-stroke outboard motor and a 6 gallon fuel tank that enabled me to run for DAYS without re-fueling. I still have that motor and a slightly larger Starcraft aluminum boat in which to play here on the Chesapeake. Trouble is I haven't ran it in over 30 years. Boating is recreation, you see, and I have not devoted much time to frivolities. Maybe when I get old, I might get-r-goin' one of those days.

[Invariably a foolish pilgrim "from the big city" (which I used to think Syracuse was) would venture out on the thinning mass in his vehicle...]
The ice was much different on The Lake. The ice hills along the shore that were formed by the incessant wave action became caves to explore. We would motor out onto the lake and cruise down to Sandy Island Beach. There we had an audience in case something went wrong maybe somebody could save us from our own doom.
We would bring the boats in and around the ice hills, which were hollow. Some were open like caves and we could go in and marvel at the structures. Only God could fashion these. Some were very low and and could barely fit under them while others were like huge domes.
That was fun but looking back at it now I realize it was dangerously foolish. We had no Cabela's safety equipment, radios, helmets, life-jackets etc. and our parents did not know exactly where we were or what we were up to. No cell phones back then, scooter - we were on your own relying on our own grit. My only regret is that I wasn't into snapping photos yet so I have nothing to show for it.

Then came the grisly part part of Spring: those poor fisherman who broke through the ice, drowned, and got listed as 'missing not recovered' during the winter season would make their appearance after the ice disappeared...
As a kid I remember a puffy-looking corpse of a man being discovered on shore near the location of the Comfort establishment. The Sandy Creek Fire Dept. (or as we affectionately called them - "The Sandy Creek Cellar-Savers") Fire Chief and a State Trooper car came screaming down to the Pond with sirens wailing as word spread quickly. Whole families gathered around the surreal scene as officers covered the corpse with blankets and wrote things down on clipboards. Nobody said much until an old woman said a prayer for the poor man's soul...

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