Between The Seasons — A Special Time of Year
In 2021 I had the wonderful experience of being on our island right up to the time when the ice starts to form and one is truly up against that “between the seasons” moment.
It is unique and challenging at the same time.
When one is on mainland, with road access, change in season is similar but without the added challenges of preparation and possible isolation. On the mainland, you can watch the ice form and then hop in your car and head to town. On the island, you might just witness ice forming around the hull of your boat — time to move!
The morning’s transition from heavy dew to crisp frost under-foot is magical. You must be particularly careful when approaching the morning dock to get into one’s boat. The frost can create a challenging and dangerous route to the boat. An amazing realization is that the wet lines / ropes from the night before are now frozen solid. This requires dousing with water to loosen the lines to be untied. Keep a bucket handy in the boat.
It can be fascinating to experience the rain that turns to snow and to awaken to a morning with snow-covered shorelines, yet wide open waters. The seasonal transition at the turning point.
Given the temperatures in the air, it is certainly recommended to have more layers of clothes on under your appropriately adorned life jacket. Gloves are essential on the steering wheel or tiller. A great lined hat with ear flaps will keep your head warm. With the cooler temperatures, a set of ski goggles can help reduce the cutting cold air as you drive the boat across the bay.
The final few boat trips, before freezing up, allow you to stock up with winter provisions so that they will be ready for you, when there is enough ice so that you can return to your camp after there is enough ice coverage.
Over the years many of the former commercial fishers on the lake would stock up and wait out the six or seven weeks. I know of some folks who continue with this seasonal tradition at their private cottages on the lake.
One of the predictors for ice making is revealed in this Outdoor Canada article. It is generally recommended that there be 15 cms of ice before walking (close to six inches). The Weather Network has a good summary of ice conditions to consider before venturing out.
With forecasts of snow across Northwestern Ontario around Remembrance Day, I think it is almost time to witness that magical time between the seasons.