Ice out on a Maine lake is a slow process.
The thick sheet covering the many lakes in Maine measures many inches deep. So thick it allows the weight of vehicles to drive on it. Creates the ice fishing, pond hockey skating, cross country skiing and snow shoeing outdoor fun opportunity. Plus winter ice on a Maine lake means snowmobile trails appear and disappear. All at the whim of Mother Nature and Jack Frost working as a team for winter exercise and recreational pastimes.
Ice out on a Maine lake.
Before the back drop changes, lots goes on behind the scenes. Winter tourism in Maine depends on snow and ice spinning the color wheel. For the transformation of Vacationland to winter white that means green for the small local community business economy. The fish and game people even track ice out on Maine lakes and keep records from past years of when the last shard is gone. And spring boating fishing fun can again happen.
Ice out boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen.
No more Jiffy ice auger needed to can open the frozen Maine lake. Riddling it with the holes for drop of the fishing line to flirt with bait and lures. With lots of patience and many rounds pegging for points on the cribbage board. To hopefully catch lake trout, land lock salmon, whatever fish species you love most for catch and release fun. Or to he keepers to clean and cook at home after you pack it up and trudge off the floating sheet of ice outdoor platform. The fish dinner served up hot, seasoned and tasty slid out of the hot frying pan to hop up and out leap on to a waiting raised plate.
The ice over and out of a Maine lake is a tug of war.
Going from open to frozen then thaw until the real deal happens. The ice out is a matter of local tradition and is it when the main lake body is open or eighty percent clear? Is ice out when there is none in just your cove tunnel vision? Is ice out an anxious proclamation whether it is or not because winter hung around too long?
Ice shacks on Maine lakes have three days to vacate once the state inland and fisheries people say no more, gotta go.
October 1st to May 1st is the time frame studded snow tires can legally be used on Maine roads too just in case you are curious. Or the question comes up on the Trivia Pursuit card drawn at the next neighborhood social get together when those are allowed during COVID19 lock down health mandate restrictions. You want to be in the front or sitting, steering in the back? Let’s go paddling down a swollen from ice melting run off from a Maine lake in a canoe.
Living on a lake year round is peaceful.
Like being at the University of Maine at Orono campus during summer when the place is like a ghost down (or a ratcheted down COVID19 pandemic during a quarantine health mandate). The many dormitories and class rooms, the Bear’s Den and downtown Orono and Old Town all feel the loss of the UMO or whatever campus location student population.
But on a Maine lake, it is not eerie when the majority of camps, cottages and waterfront homes of snow birds are empty.
There is solitude, quiet. It’s like someone turned off a very loud motor. Or seriously reduced the life treadmill speed or incline underneath your feet. It’s like the country western song “Stop The World And Let Me Off”. Where the singer is not at peace and happy. No no, she or he, whoever is singing into the microphone is grieving and experiencing full blown heart ache. Suffering from a love relationship gone bad.
Tired of going round and round wearing a head that’s spinning inside. Played the game of love and lost with dreams shattered and things pretty bleak as young Waylon Jennings sang in the original song lyrics. Patsy Cline crooned it before dying way too young back in 1957 and a slew of others gave the tune a whirl as well. The slow down caused by winter snow and iced over lakes and ponds is not lamented but celebrated. Maybe the “hunkering down” for months of a solid Maine winter is what makes adjustment to the coronovirus a lot easier in rural areas than city settings.
Ice out, Garrison Keillor wrote and told the story about Lake Wobegon where a contest ensued each year to bet the date the lake would be open and free.
Ice out on a Maine lake.
It’s a slow process. Involving the rays of a stronger sun, rain and fog and wind too. The smaller protected covers of the lake often ice over and open up first. The sounds of a Maine lake when loons are missing and winter is waning. If you listen closely, you hear the shifting groaning, cracking and deep bass sounds like the Maine lake has indigestion. It makes you think of recorded whale sounds and life below the surface which is dark, cold, murky.
See if you can pick up those ice movement shifting sounds on this early morning video shot this week on a not so frozen Maine lake with an ice receding hairline.
Ice out on a Maine lake signals plumbers get ready.
Start your pick up trucks with the pipe tube carriers on top and tool boxes on back. Be excited about the change of use ahead Mainers. Call someone with a pipe wrench that knows how to prime well pumps, to put the foot valves under the water along the Mane lake shoreline. To open up hundreds of local Maine lake camps so plumbing is functional. And blow down trees needing chainsaws are fired up too for debris removal. Never wasted and chopped into just the right size to fit into the wood heating stove or fire ring out front the lake property in Maine setting.
The ice is almost out of Drews Lake in Aroostook County, Maine.
The pair of family waterfront properties opened up with indoor plumbing ready and waiting. The yards need small and not so tiny tree limbs littering them escorted to the outdoor fireplace or parked in the woods.
Lake property wharfs and docks slid back into the water.
Gas grill and hibachis dragged out of sheds crammed full of kayaks, hammocks, life preservers of all kinds. Gas cans for fueling boat and lawn motors. Paint cans for retaining decks and other touch ups of scars caused by winter winds and temperature drops.
Missing shutters replaced. Steps pulled out late last fall to avoid winter lifting by frost that damages the siding and more. Those heave hoed here we go steps snugged closer to reduce the gap to fall through and keep everyone happy campers. To avoid trips to the ER instead of have a seat. Looking out over the lake to enjoy the water sight and sounds. Time for spring cleaning. Let’s take care of the dead house flies. Clean the windows providing the views. Groceries to replenish the open turned off refrigerators. That’s high up on the to do list!
Thoughts of charging boat batteries, the pulling out of winter storage any summer water toys tucked away for winter hibernation.
Unrolling the tree hammock, unfolding tucked away lawn chairs to arrange them out front wherever the lake view is best. Preparing for guests that may not materialize outside of your immediate family circle ahead. This summer with sheltering in place and the plan to not run the roads and stick close to home, a Maine lake property does not seem so bad. Why wouldn’t you want to be parked next to the water, to have a lake for a neighbor. As one by one old friends return from the sunny south or venture out from in town winter locations.
Some Maine lake property camp owners won’t be back.
Families facing the tough decision making ahead. Do we keep and maintain the place that’s too far away now that mom or dad or both are no longer around to enjoy the summer place? There is a season in any stage of life, turn turn turn right? All I know is lake life in Maine is sacred. For those seeking it, others that already are knee deep in lake life. A place to get centered surrounded by all the natural beauty makes you feel pretty darn lucky. That’s how you live best in Maine.
Appreciation, an attitude of gratitude and mental house keeping applied to the simple living in Maine.
To rid the mind and soul of “stinking thinking” my Mom instilled in her four boys. Have you rented a lake property in Maine before? Or do you own one, maybe spent a good chunk of your childhood parked next to a Maine lake? Then I’m preaching to the choir about what Maine lake ice out experience means to a person.