On Friday afternoon the sun left Ely for more southern climes I guess. The clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. Shagawa Lake has become, over the years, the official measuring stick for when the ice is out in Ely.
We went down to see what we could see, just hours before the rain came and the last vestiges of 2019’s long remembered Winter left the northland forever. It was almost too windy, but with an experienced pilot on the stick, we captured some fantastic footage of the semi-solid surface. Far from safe and discolored towards black, what was left had bunched together and begun to candle.
You can see in the film, the way the rotten black, especially during the clouded afternoon, takes on the attributes of the surface of the moon. Pockmarks, ski tracks, snowmobile tracks and even tire tracks from cars and trucks are barely noticeable like eons of traffic on the rock the orbits Earth.
Just weeks ago, someone was fishing on this surface, huddled over a hole they cut with an auger. In the hours that followed, the ice was eaten from beneath by the hungry appetite of Spring wetted with temperatures in the fifties and few thirsty gulps of rain.
The wind always seems to be the death knoll of walking on water up here in the North and it was no surprise when Saturday followed up Friday’s slow shower with a steady push over fifteen miles an hour and gusts that crested twenty. This fourteen hour blow did the trick and although bigger lakes like Snowbank and more would follow, Shagawa had freed itself.
Sunday’s sun and the cornflower blue skies that also followed showed a new season waking on Shagawa Lake and Ely. A land of sky-blue waters, straight from a Hamm’s commercial. Cheers!
Saturday also held something special in store for us on a hike at Hidden Valley just outside of Ely. On a couple of trails in different place, the trees open up and you can get a springtime view of the wetlands unfolding before you. At one, in the Summer, you can see a meadow circling a marshy area full of life.
It was HOPPING on Saturday and no mistake. I recorded the sounds and recommend turning up the volume and letting it loop while closing your eyes. It’s the sound of Life, new life and Hope, rebirth, Spring and the eternal hatching of young, both in metaphor and truth.
There’s four types of frogs in our woods this time of year. Aside from Spring Peepers and most likely the deeper voices of the Northern Leopard Frogs, there’s the Wood Frog and the Boreal Chorus Frog. Together with the songbirds and the gulls as well as some raptors we could see flying low over the valley, they made a beautiful chorus that I’ll never forget.
Stay safe, but dream! Close your eyes and you’re in the wilderness!
What follows is a great poetic adventure that I didn’t write 🙂 Tim Stouffer