Escape from a frozen lake

Walking on water – that’s what we joked we were doing.

We were on Stoney Lake, near Lakefield, Ontario, with the water frozen deeply enough so snowmobiles could drive across it. Riders had cooperated to keep everyone safe – orange stakes pounded into the ice marked a safe route across the snow-covered ice. A highway running through the centre of the lake. During the day drivers passed each other, staying on their own side of the marked road. At night, their headlights cut a swift path through the darkness.

If the ice was heavy enough to hold them, then it was strong enough to hold us, too. We lowered ourselves off the jetty – the one where, a summer or two ago, we’d stood waiting for the speedboat to pick us up and take us water skiing. Two blades going through the water, taking the same path as the two blades on the bottom of the snowmobiles, but in summer not leaving any telltale trails.

We walked through pure, fresh, unmarked snow. The childlike(ish?) need to mark territory came out – I spelled my name. The 10-foot high letters glittered in the sunshine.

The owners of the lodge had made a skating rink close to shore. The next day we laced up and went for a glide. Part of the ice was clear – there must have been a small current running under that part. It was transparent and when we walked on it we saw a small sand crab, perfectly encased. Frozen in time.


Until it moved! We jumped as the crab turned around, looking for a way out of its icy situation. It must have found a little air or water pocket between the layers of ice. It reminded us of a scarab preserved in resin. Except this creature lived in an ephemeral landscape; it had a chance at escape.

We may have had the power to walk on water – it needed the power to bore through ice. I hope it worked.


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