Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

This week the ice finally closed across the bay. On Saturday we had very high on-shore winds, which pushed the thin strands of broken ice onto our side of the fjord - we all thought it would be at minimum a few more weeks before the waters solidified.

Amazing, we had two subsequent days with cold temperatures (minus 10 - 15 Celsius) with little to no winds, and what for the past five months had been a vista of choppy dark waters rapidly became a smooth light ash gray film of solid state H2O.

True to the Inuit sense of derring-do, snowmobile and ATV tracks appeared on the incredibly thin ice within 36 hours. In reality, it is safer to go out on uncertain ice with a snowmobile than on foot since the pressure is less per square inch given the surface area of the skis and track.

In previous years, I've seen elders walk tentatively out on the ice, taking a step or two, testing the ice with a harpoon, and then shuffling out a bit further. Now while not admitting to having a yellow streak, there is no way you would ever get me to walk out onto ice for at least the first month after it has formed.

Rationally, I know that sea ice forms differently than freshwater ice, which tends to be more brittle. Indeed, I've heard that freshly formed sea ice is springy and that you can feel it deforming a little under the weight of your foot without cracking like freshwater ice. Moreover, sea ice having changed in colour from dark grey to a much lighter grey is generally deemed safe enough to walk on. But all that knowledge cannot overcome my deep sense that new ice equals danger.

For those of you wanting to research sea ice further, the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) discusses its formation and the scientific rationale behind traditional Inuit knowledge regarding ice.

In the meantime, the only ice I want to be involved with is in cubed form with my scotch. Problem is, I don't have any. Donations will be gratefully accepted.

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Blogger DutchBitch said...

Sheesh! I am freezing just reading about it... Goose bumps all over!

9:02 AM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Brrr. Laphroig still?

8:37 PM  
Blogger c'est moi said...

ice or ecosse?

10:47 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

dutchbitch - I'm told the North Sea in winter is no joke either. I'd rather have the cold dry here.

Fuff - alas, no. There is no more 10-year Laphroaig left in Canada. Guilty as charged.

c'est moi - the liquid, obviously. Any down Chimo way?

8:09 PM  
Blogger A Watkins Man! said...

I've got some Lagavulin down here on Manitoulin Island if you'd like to stop by!

1:29 PM  

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