Saturday, November 30, 2013

First Snow / First Ice

I'm thinking we are into winter a bit early this year.  I talked in an earlier post about sliding across the ice--but not so soon!  We are now back to open water with an air temp of 46 degrees.  Earlier today I was banging through the ice with the kayak--it takes a bit of coordination and I found myself struggling to relearn all the winter moves.  We use collapsed ski poles with sharpened points to take on the ice.  With the present thickness, it holds long enough for the kayak to move on top--and then it collapses under the weight.  One struggles to move a boat length at a time onto the ice--always taking care to not get caught leaning when the ice suddenly collapses under a ski pole.  The fun begins when you reach the
opposite shore and try to get out of the thing without rolling over!  Oh well, at the present time we are back to the rowboat.  I found the ice to be both beautiful and brittle.  It was around a half inch thick with the clarity of glass.  It wasn't as strong as ice in prior years--which had a darker quality to the color.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pioneers Again

The big piers and boat came in today.  We're back to rowing across the lake to our cars on the shore.  Then soon we'll be sliding across the ice in kayaks--and then, with a little luck, sauntering across the ice on foot.  The great crew at the Rochester Boat Company: Steve Kruger, Jason Swick, Shawn Reffett, and Travis Woodcox, do a super job for us with all the heavy equipment on the shore and at the island.  Still, it is kind of nice to be back to basics--depending only on your own strength and wits to come and go.  We have reclaimed Lake Manitou--only sharing it with a few duck hunters at the moment.  Soon we will only be sharing it with the deer and other assorted wildlife.  A peace steals over this lake that is hard to describe, but it is definitely good for the soul.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

We're OK--I Guess

I look at the pictures of the devastation done to Illinois towns, and I guess we should be thanking our lucky stars--unless something worse develops tonight.  It's days like this that make me appreciate the basement with its ceiling of steel beams. 

We went from nearly 70 degrees to 55 degrees in a heartbeat as a storm front--itself moving at 65 mph swept through.  The wind gusts had to be at 80 mph plus.  By some miracle the windows on the south side of the home held--even though pelted by hail and debris. 

The rowboat, complete with very heavy outboard motor was lifted off the lift and flipped over the work pier and out to sea.  The two "emergency" lines securing it were parted like bits of straw.  The tank, oars, life jackets, and cushion all made their separate way toward the dam.  We went from being a passive spectator to moving fast through the driving rain to secure what we could.  Happily, the anchor flipped out along with everything else and the anchor line held the boat and motor close enough to the island to be reached with a boat hook--lots of lightning around--never fun when you are out in the rain with a ten foot aluminum boat hook!

The heavy Adirondack chairs were swept to the edge of Alice's deck, one going overboard and the other blown down the access ramp to the garden gate.  The BBQ grill on the kitchen deck was picked up on one end and tossed to the lower deck level.

The saddest moment, though, was the loss of the pretty young pear tree that Cookie planted fifteen years ago.  It was always the first to greet us in the spring with a sea of white blooms, and the last to say goodbye in the fall with its scarlet burst of leaves.  The remaining leaves were its downfall, as they presented too much to the wind and it was snapped off at the ground like it was nothing.

We will recover, we always do, and we must remember those who fared so much worse this day than we did.  All the above was accompanied by the wail of tornado sirens--at least none touched down near here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Hint of Winter

We had quite an artic blast roll through last week.  A little preview of what's in store as it was well below freezing for a time.  We'll be back in the 60's for the weekend--and so it goes. These wild temperature swings make for some great twilight viewing.  The leaves are fleeing the trees in great bunches in the bluster of it all.