Long Lake is beginning to wake up. The lake ice has been groaning something fierce for the last few days. This is the day that the sun shines directly on the equator and there’s almost exactly equal amounts of night and day. It was cold enough today that the water at land’s edge has refrozen. But the ice at the edge is just a thin clear crust. If something swam by you’d see it perfectly. I haven’t seen anything swim by though.
The branches that ice fishermen set in their holes to warn of thin ice are still standing up straight. And the surface of the ice shows snowmobile and ATV “scars.” Why that happens, I don’t know. But as the ice melts the paths habitually taken this winter show up clearly.
Scrawny looking deer have been visiting every evening. They drank at the water’s edge a few nights ago. Not tonight though.
We are anxious for ice out and dock in.
Just when you think that this lake can’t come up with another “best of…,” it surprises you. This is not photo-shopped. This fake-looking sunset is real. Just like my eyeballs saw it.
The dock is out of the water. The kayaks are packed away. Summer people are off doing whatever. The lake is quiet. The lake is spectacular.
I was born and raised in Michigan, so it’s not like I know the day-to-day details of weather anywhere else. But to my taste, it doesn’t get any better than experiencing the changing of the seasons in my home state. These sunset photos were taken on April 2, 2010, about 30 minutes apart, just a week and a half after ice out, on a day when the temperatures soared to 82 degrees.
A Pileated Woodpecker visited our suet feeder. The loons are already back on the lake. The Canada Geese are paired up and cranky. The lake is alive with loon wails, geese honks, and Merganser quacks. The visiting Buffleheads are doing their goofy water skimming dances. This weekend we saw a good sized pike, probably getting his appetite worked up for a gosling or two, swimming over the big weed pile at the west end of Ghost Bay. Small mouth bass are moving through the shallows and circling Belly Button Island. We sat in our kayaks, taking it all in. Delicious!
It hasn’t been a rough winter so far. No extremes of temperature. Less than the usual amount of snow. But it is still late January and there are months of wintry weather behind and ahead. The lake is beautiful, in its wintry ways. Somehow the snow pulls both sides of the lake more toward the middle and distances seem collapsed. The wind blows the snow into drifts that leave ribbons of clear ice. Last weekend a mini-murder of crows walked around the ice as if they were looking for something. Somehow it set me to remembering summer.
The sunsets on Hillman’s Long Lake are most often beautiful in an understated way. Yellows and delicate oranges melt into the almost night shadows. About now the fishermen would mostly be off the lake. My dad would have stayed out a little later, though, trolling for bass in the shallows until night settled in.