The Romance of Ice Fishing

Twenty-six years ago, my family moved from old Cape Cod to central Maine. As you can well imagine, it was quite a culture shock. Spring came to Cape Cod in March. We planted peas on St. Patrick’s Day and actually saw the phenomenon of green grass. Up north, March is often the snowiest month.

Climate change was not the only adjustment. In this lake region, outdoor sports reigned supreme. Autumn brought deer hunters into the woods. I still remember driving downtown and was horrified to see a dead deer hanging off the back of a pickup truck.

Ice thickens in January and the lake is dotted with ice shacks-those huts that ward off cold and wind to protect hardy fishermen. I hear the sound of augers drilling holes in the ice; bald eagles fly overhead in search of fish scraps. I watch the fishermen use slotted spoons-skimmers-to keep the holes clear. Little orange flags are planted in the holes. When fish grabbed the bait, the flag pops up as a signal they had a bite. It was a new world for me as it was for a woman I met several years ago. She had relocated from Washington state and puzzled over the those huts out on the ice-certain that they were outhouses.

I never thought ice fishing could foster romance. I was wrong. My hairdresser told the story of a man who took his girlfriend ice fishing. She saw the orange flag shoot up-they caught a fish. She slid over to the hole and a sparkling object caught her eye. It was a diamond ring!

On my snowshoe excursions, I see sparkles out in the woods. Snow bridges gleam over the creek out back. I stand and listen, breathing deeply of the crisp air. Underneath the snow, the stream still flows, bringing movement to the frozen landscape and with it, the hope of spring.

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