Up North and Off the Grid: A Dream of Spring

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On March 20th, spring arrived at long last! But this is still early spring, so it is only the first part of spring that we see through the window this morning. The first month of spring is a lot like winter: snow and ice. The second part of spring is mud. The third part of spring is blackflies.

Clearly, this first part of spring is the best. Here in the North, for a couple of weeks at least, I will be taking daily walks through the forest, across vast wetlands, and often on the lake. We have a wonderful lake… no currents… just lots of ice that stays solid until most days and nights stay above freezing.

In the forest, the top layers of snow got thoroughly soaked in a late winter thaw. Then the cold came back and now there is a thick hard crust, so I can walk anywhere! No snowshoes required — at least in the mornings! Sometimes the sunny spots under the trees will soften, and I’ll crunch through the 30cm of snow that remains in the bush.

Because it is the first month of spring, the forest takes on sights and sounds that have been muffled by the deep and cold snow of real winter. The streams start to flow. Little streams and big rivers — flowing water making its way. My favourite places to walk in early spring sing with the sound of rushing water. I try to plan every walk so I’ll see a different part of the lake, and a new stream reaching its way toward summer.

A series of cold nights will attempt to tuck the water out of sight again, but it is too late. Like an Easter egg opened, it can’t be put back into the wrapping. The products of these cold nights are displayed in a brilliant sparkle of ice formations. The ice tries to cover the water, but the water always keeps a path open.

The little stream I walked along today is only a half metre wide at most, and only a few centimetres deep. Its bank rises 40 cm from the streambed, and the snow rises another 25 cm above that. I iie on my belly in the snow and reach down to take photos. The beauty and variety of the ice formations is never ending.

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