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norbert blei | ice-in


It happens sometimes in December, sometimes as early as November.

This non-winter so far, a cold, sunny January morning, it remains a work in progress. Though something is happening as you drive by, catching a glimpse of the shore. You will never “see it” happen in the moment: the ice coming in, into, on the bay, gathering strength and depth so slowly before your very eyes.

Setting itself in place for the winter miracle of water-to-ice…transformation. The blue water disappears…let’s go. It’s…it’s…thin, solid, thick…one foot, two feet…black ice, or grey ice…capped inevitable in waves of snow. The bay, blinding in sunlight. You can see all the way over there…

Given another freeze or two, and you too can walk on water.
Beneath the ice the living world is trapped for weeks to come. (What is all going on in their world, suddenly a ceiling above?)

Get out the cross-country skis, the snowshoes…
Start the snowmobiles, the pick-up trucks…

Soon the shanties arrive…the ice fishermen slowly moving out, into, above it all, with their drills and rods and lines and bait and nets and hooks…the shanties sending small clouds of smoke high above the frozen scene, while inside men sit and eat and drink and talk and laugh and tell stories and are a thousand miles from home…waiting above a small circle of blue water. Which has become their universe.

Anxious to harvest whatever life under ice yields for a winter dinner in a warm house, as night slowly descends, and they await the next day on the ice with joy.norbert blei