Up North and Off Grid: December on the Lake

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December on the Lake

This is what the underwater rocks look like as Viki paddles the shore on a calm day in December.

It is dark this December morning. And cold. I want to stay inside and hibernate.

Dawn comes slowly. Eventually the sun rises but it gives little heat. I turn another page of my book, and settle deeper into the comfort of my chair.

When the sun is a little higher in the sky and the lake as flat as a mirror, I’m taken in by its beauty. How can I stay inside?

The canoe is still at the lakeshore, as it always is until ice covers half the lake. Today would be a perfect day to be out and about. The water beckons. But it is so warm in here, and so cold out there. I finish the chapter, and set the book aside.

Gazing out the window, I can see something glinting through the trees in the distance. Is it in the trees on the island far away or on the steep hill across the bay behind the island? I check it out with the binoculars, but can’t tell what it is. It’s beautiful out there. I give into the lure. I dress warmly and head down the path to the dock.

It has been a windy autumn. Sometimes it seems as though the south wind has been blowing forever. Then comes a day like this – sunny and dead calm. A perfect day to be out in the canoe.

I gingerly step into the canoe and push away from the dock. It has been a long time since I floated on the water. But I couldn’t stay inside any longer… the beauty of the day, the calm lake, and the curiosity of what is making that glinting light behind the trees of the island?

I paddle along the shore in nearly complete silence. December is a very quiet time on the lake. The adult loons are long gone, and though some of this year’s young are still around, they don’t call out. We won’t hear loon song again until April.

I paddle through the islands, along the narrow channel that leads to a big bay, and there it is… a gleaming hillside. Shafts of silver light reflect from the icy rock face, through the trees on the steep slope. With all the rain and cold, water has been seeping and freezing. And with today’s brilliant sun, reflecting light like a mirror. Mystery solved.

I stay out for a couple of hours, just drifting sometimes, paddling slowly along the shallows. Just under the surface of the water the rocks lay still, like an Ivan Wheale painting… gold and grey, white and pale brown. Another few weeks I’ll be walking on clear ice in this very place, and the view will be the same. And even more beautiful.

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