Walking on water may be reserved for special souls, but black ice is hard, crystal clear and anyone can stand on top of it and look straight to the bottom of a pond or lake.
Floating in summer months with a mask and snorkel gives a similar view, but it is the invisible ice barrier that makes that remote underwater world so fascinating. We can see it, but we can’t touch it. I can spend hours skating in slow curves following a channel, or trying to see under a submerged root system. The detail seems to be magnified by the ice. Thin tapering grass blades and mounds of tufted bottlebrush plants are stark and vivid. Lily pads have pink spirals for stalks, and near a beaver lodge a plume of air bubbles are frozen in time.
This weekend skaters and ice walkers had miles of clear ice to skim across. It does not happen every year, but when it does the shout goes out, “Go now, don’t wait.”
And we do drop what we are doing and go out, both avid skaters and those who just want to see this close but untouchable world. Conditions were perfect on Saturday, and they may be again this week.
This world will be hidden by snow and slush soon, and might not be back for years. Heed the call, and pull on skates or creepers, strap your baby in a pull-sleigh, put snow tires on your grandmother’s wheel chair, and get out on the ice.