The calm days stand out around here, if for no other reason than the profound silence that descends. Straining to hear the pulse of the water, like listening for a heartbeat late at night, not even a gentle ripple laps the shore.
Shadows creep northward and the lowering sun angles through the first icy haze of the season, creating sun dogs, which are kind of like rainbows but much, much colder.
Overnight, a crystalline sheet overspreads the still water, covering most of the surface but not quite all.
A morning breeze picks at the edges, flexing the ice sheet and pushing down with the weight of wind-driven ripples. Water works its way through weak spots, breaking away angular shards that clank like glass as they collide.
A frigid night gives way to a sunny Indian Summer day with just enough warmth and water for one last boat ride around the lake. It’s a bit stiff in spots, especially the shady coves where the ice is several days old. The otters have networks of holes they keep open, punching through the ice with their heads.
Each night for a week, cold stillness settles in and broken shards are absorbed by the growing sheet and water freezes as it flows over the expanding edge.
Each night the existing ice thickens and spreads, pushing the last open water to places where the morning breeze can not stir it, and eventually these spots, too, are covered over.
The ice sings now, at night when the temperature drops and the sheet expands, but also in the afternoons when the sun has done what it can and it sags under its own weight. Soon the sounds will be muffled by snow, followed by the quiet dark of winter and straining to hear the pulse of the water, like a heartbeat late at night.