Waiting for ice to form on Fish in a Barrel Pond is not quite as dramatic as it was when I lived on Lake Champlain (see On Thin Ice) but it is significant.
The wind died down Saturday night and the cold settled in, along with the silence of winter. No more gentle ripples lapping at the shore, no whitecaps shredding their way across the surface and no more visible rises of feeding trout. Sure, I can hear a chainsaw in the distance now and then, and the sounds of air brakes as trucks hit the hill coming into the village but, without the constant background noise of water sloshing around, the dominant sound is no sound at all.
A dusting of snow makes visible the movements of animals as they go about their business. Coyotes cruise the roads and woods, looking for food and at least one otter has been on the move, following streams the way we follow streets.
Spray and splashing at the spillway creates a coating of ice on the rocks — lovely, cold and dangerous — building up layer after layer, catching the dim late-autumn light and holding it close.
There will be no more fishing until April. You might be able to use your new Green Mountain Thumper to thrash open a hole to cast to but there ain’t much point. The hole will seal over quickly, the ice thicker than before. Besides, ice fishing is not allowed on Fish in a Barrel Pond, for a lot of reasons, so that’s all she wrote for 2010.
Let the winter fun begin.