Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Shades of Blue

We've seen Minnesota lakes turned into cities with ice houses, snowmobiles, pickup trucks, and plowed roads with street signs. We didn't fish there, but we walked out on a small frozen lake to ice fish inside an ice house. Heavy clothes were in order, but we were out of the cold wind with the freedom to move around, drink coffee, eat sandwiches, play cards, and at the same time catch crappie, walleye and northern. Sweet.

At daylight, the day after Christmas, we piled into our friend's pickup truck to ice fish on Minnesota's Saint Croix River. Just the thought was spooky. Moving water. A river. My heart pounded. I held my breath. He didn't seem afraid, he'd grown up on it. I gripped my coat collar and shut my eyes when he drove onto the ice without hesitation. Clunk, clunk, clunk made me open them. Was he driving over planks? "No, it's the ice," he said.

Several blocks from shore he stopped and cut the engine. All alone, what ifs raced through my head. "Come on, get out," he urged stepping onto the ice. "It's okay." Not convinced, I stepped softly holding my breath, as if that would make me lighter. Ice scrunched under my boots. Nose-nipping cold greeted my face. The ice supported the truck and us without effort.

Exhaling, I looked around and discovered one of the most beautiful mornings I've ever seen: a still, silent, sacred secret of heavy cloud cover that created a world of everything awash in shades of pale blue to slate. Stunning. I wanted to walk away, look back, and see what shade of blue the truck and our friend were, but I didn't. Stay close I thought and speculate.

While I gaped, our friend drilled a hole a foot and a half deep in the ice. Thirty-eight feet of water moved beneath. The occasional crack of the ice, like a shot, made my tummy flip, but nothing disturbed the blues. Fishing brought up a few small ones we returned to the river. It didn't matter, there'd be more fishing trips, but I might not ever again see the blues.

Copyright 2006 Red Convertible Travel Series

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