Sunday, November 23, 2008

Righteous Ice: David McDonald from Rainy Lake 7 Miles East of International Falls

Friday, November 21

My dog Hilwa and I are up at the Lake making sure no raccoon or bear
have moved into a cabin (none have... all is good up north).
Jackfish Bay on Rainy Lake is iced over but it can't be very thick.
There is just an inch or two of snow here and there. It was a clear,
sunny, still, beautiful, cold day so I went down to the dock at sunset
(which is around 4:15 now) at looked north across the bay. There was
no wind and everything was so quiet that I could hear a faint rumble
from the mill in town to the west and a dog barking off in the
distance to the east. The loudest sound was Hilwa's paws on the
squeaky snow.

So I stood there for a moment enjoying the calm when all of a sudden
there was a loud sci-fi rippling noise that seemed to race from one
end of the bay all the way to the other in less than a second. Yes,
it was uber freaky and unexpected partly because there was nothing
visual... it was just a sound from under the frozen surface of the
lake. I am told it is the sound of the ice forming and following a
path of least resistance and making noise as it expands and hits other
ice. I suggest you get a better source for the science but that is
what I think was happening.

I waited and a few minutes later a completely different sound came
from another part of the bay. It was very cool and impossible to
describe. I stood there for about 10 minutes and heard a bizarre
collection of maybe ten different sounds from all over Jackfish Bay.

So then I closed my eyes and tried to get into a total audio zone. I
was standing at the end of the dock so the faint mill rumble was to my
left and the distant dog barking was to my right. I told Hilwa to
shut up so she wandered off and was making less noise behind me on the
shore. After a few moments another ice sound came from the lake and
it was righteous. I got more and more in the zone with each new and
different sound, sort of feeling exactly where it was coming from in
the bay. Some were pops, some were squeals, and others were the
rippling kind that travelled. Righteous.

Then I heard a different continuous noise coming from behind me and
it seemed to be quickly heading right at me. I wasn't sure what it
was so I opened my eyes just as an eagle flew overhead at about the
height of the trees heading north over the lake. The sound I heard
was its wings flapping in the quiet of dusk. Righteous.

- David McDonald

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