January 13, 2023 — On Sunday afternoon, I had an hour before I planned to meet Steph and Hawthorn in Traverse City to run some errands. Sonny needed a walk, of course, but all morning as I did washing and housework, I studied the dark snowless ice on the shallow waist deep water at our end of Little Traverse Lake. It looked smooth, but was it thick enough to skate on?
I left Sonny in the house and headed to the shoreline. There was a narrow barrier of open water between shore and the ice. I walked along the land looking for a spot where the ice was close enough to leap to. I thought about getting a section of dock to stretch out. Luckily, there was a spot of thicker wind-blown shore ice in front of Bredin’s. I chopped the ice with an ax to check its thickness. It was safe. I put my skates on and jumped to the uneven ice and skated to where the white shore ice changed to dark and smooth. I chopped again. It was a safe two-inches thick. I skated out another 30 yards til the ice changed again. Yikes. That ice wouldn’t hold a songbird. I turned around and planned a skating route in my head. Then, I skated round and round fast and when I started to creep too close to the thin ice, I slowed down and changed direction.
After I got a joyful sweat going, I took my skates off and went home to take Sonny for a quick run in a long meadow of brown fiddleheads laying against the winter ground. While we walked, I thought about my short skate. It was all questionable. The thickness. The border of razor-thin ice. My waiting dog and family. And yet, that little leap from shore and an adventurous 30-minute skate was all the answer I needed.