Fishing for Ice in Swan Lake

January has definitely been the month of ice! If you look back through our recent adventures you’ll see ice-play in all of its various incarnations. Kids have spent a good deal of time sliding on, chopping at, spinning on, tossing, cracking, skating on, poking at, fishing for, stomping on, and smashing–the ice. Frozen puddles, bits of icy brook, thickly covered ponds and lakes–each variation has had its own appeal. But I think that the most fun to be had has come from simply thwacking away at it with a stick. There’s something very satisfying about finding a good, strong stick, one that doesn’t break with it’s initial sharp contact with an unyielding, frozen surface, just going to town trying to get through to whatever water might lie below.

I can remember doing this as a kid, poking through the thin sheath of ice on a puddle to the street below at the bus stop or breaking through the icy edge of the frozen swamp in the backyard woods and using the stick like a crowbar to hoist broken sheets from the murky water and then hacking away at the retrieved pieces with rocks and sticks to break them further. The ice was fascinating. Clearly it still is.

Our hike today at Swan Lake lent itself perfectly to this favorite winter past time. As we’ve been hanging on to the light a bit longer these days, I figured we’d have no problem getting all the way around the lake before the sun began to set.What I didn’t plan on, though I don’t know why, was the magnetic pull of the ice. So while we made good tracks on the beginning of the trail as we headed clockwise around the lake toward the stepping stone bridge, we didn’t get too much farther than that. The lake’s frozen edge beckoned. The bridge begged to be crossed and then crossed again, and again. Fallen branches were collected and the thwacking commenced. A great team effort ensued to pull a large sheet of ice to the shore, which was nearly successful–parents were treated to a chorus of groans and shrieks when it slipped out of hands to crash onto the ground below.

A couple of our families had forged ahead and we spotted them across the lake when we decided to take a cue from the waning afternoon light and begin our hike back. Racing them back to the trail kiosk was the only way to pull the kids away from their icy endeavors.

With several more weeks of winter ahead, I imagine the ice-adventures are going to continue!

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