Across the Frozen Lake

Across the Frozen Lake
Boone liked mornings. He liked adventure. It was morning. He’d been thinking about this adventure since yesterday. He would cross the lake. He would do it walking-on ice. He knew experts called ice a film on water. But he had been watching the lake. Ice had covered its surface three weeks earlier. It had never opened since. He would be careful. He told his dad. He told his mom. He knew what they would say, both did, “be careful, I love you.”

Across the frozen lake was where he anticipated adventure. He’d walked on ice-covered water before. He knew ice could be unsafe, he would be safe and walk around the very edge. The water was not over his head there. He knew his first adventure would be on the ice. That would make two adventures in one. Even better. These quests would happen this morning.
It was cold. One of Boone’s daily habits was to check the family’s digital thermometer each morning when he got out of bed. This morning it read 12 degrees F. He would leave after breakfast. In his young life he had been faithfully taught by both parents and grandparents that the Bible is God’s word. Before breakfast and before final preparation to start these adventures, he picked up his Bible. This morning he read from Psalm 33 these words, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be…” Boone could not fully understand how God could just speak and things came to be. This morning he would walk among the things God spoke into being.cropped-dsc_0031_888sig1.jpg
He was becoming more and more eager to be on his way. He took time to eat a fine breakfast. He even ate a banana. That’s when his mom reminded him explorers brush their teeth before great expeditions. Sometimes he debated his mother about brushing. This morning he was keen on getting started. He brushed.
Before his dad left the house, he reminded Boone about dressing in layers. It was on his mind as he put his toothbrush away. When he walked through the kitchen his mom said, “the thermometer reads 15 degrees Boone, remember to layer up.” He knew if his grandpa were there, he would hear the same thing. His first layer was a one-piece suit of long underwear. It was old, but it was lightweight; and warm. He added a thermal turtle neck and pulled on two pair of socks, one wool. Over his cargo pants he added an outer layer of waterproof wind pants. For his arms and chest, he added a fleece vest and a lightweight parka with a hood. Once his insulated, waterproof boots were on, he would step outside. He did not plan to bring the survival bag his grandfather helped him assemble after his first solo trip. He was close to home. He would rely on his cell phone. He’d checked the charge on the battery. As he stepped out the door he reached for the willow walking stick his grandfather had made for him last Christmas. Boone felt his grandfather was near when the stick was in hand. Grandpa’s signature, burned in the wood near the top confirmed it.
He’d stepped into the crisp early winter air when he remembered. How many times had he heard is dad and grandfather say never head onto early ice without your ice picks. He’d left the two palm size cylinders of wood with nails firmly fastened to the end in the drawer in the laundry. The nylon cord attached to the other end of each cylinder went around his neck. If he accidentally broke through the ice he could use the ice picks to pull himself back to safety. He knew his dad would ask. His trip across the frozen lake would wait 5 minutes. Since he did not see his mom anywhere, he left his boots on to walk into the laundry. Boone thought to himself, they are clean yet.
Finally, he was ready and standing outside. Though he was 11 Boone had already developed the habits of someone used to being outside. He stopped and gazed around him. The first minute outside he always stood still and just watched. He was never disappointed.cropped-dsc_0091e2d.jpg
Boone was pleased his family lived two quick blocks from the lake. He would be there in five minutes. He decided to take big steps. He thought about how the lake had looked unfrozen. Then he thought about those first steps on the ice. He had completely forgotten the math homework due Monday. His drums and practicing them would have to wait. Adventure first and the first part of the adventure would be across the frozen lake. (to be continued)DSC_0059_1035sig

Boone’s Morning (conclusion)

Boone’s Morning Conclusion

Boone scanned the woods as he slowly made each step. He had learned the art of feeling the earth before he put his full weight on it. If a twig or branch was beneath, he moved his foot to the side. There was no sound of twigs or branches breaking when Boone walked. The leaves were something else. The carpeted the floor of the woods. He could not avoid them. He could pick up his feet and place them gently on the leafy mat which was part of the woods. He did not mind that walking took longer this way. Being quiet was his goal. He intended to see things.

He had walked 100 yards when he came to the small flow of water. Crossing a stream was a delight. This one had ice on the edges and Boone’s alert eyes noticed the movement of the water beneath the crystal-clear ice. Water moving under ice was a favorite sight of his. He paused. His eyes took in the liquid beauty flowing silently below him. He looked up and picked his crossing place. Deer had crossed here too.DSC_0025_1068sig

As he reached the top of the little stream bank he took a long look to the north through the woods. It was easy to see ahead. The trees in the woods were thick but with the leaves down the late fall view was uncluttered. Nothing moved. He was reminded then of the strength of the south wind as a fresh gust bent the tops of the trees. He could hear it growl as it tore through the limbs above his head. He knew his scent went before him. He resolved to be more careful, even more quiet. He began to look for a place to sit.

 He chose another landmark in one of the trees to the north. This time it was a large cluster of basswood, the only one like it. Quietly, with care he moved northward to the trunks bunched like only basswood can. He noticed the near perfect rings of holes drilled by a Sapsucker Woodpecker in the trunk. He liked the symmetry found in the woods too. Finding it many places was one of the other pleasures of being in the woods. Soundlessly he moved to the north side of the basswood. He saw the trunks made a perfect spot to sit. They would make a great backrest. But the ground was bare. He decided to pick up a handful of leaves to pad his seat and keep him dry. Even with the wind noise, the rustle they made disturbed the deep stillness. He did not pick up any more. DSC_0094_1081

Quietly he sat down, his back against one of the basswood trunks. He was on the south side of a bowl like dip in the forest floor. He could see everything to the north. He would sit here; and watch. Sitting outside always relaxed him. As the minutes passed Boone became drowsy. But he did not let himself sleep. He’d been quiet. He’d traveled slowly observing while he moved. Perhaps there was a deer standing nearby. Slowly, he swiveled his head from east to west, then back again. Nothing moved. The gusting rumble of the south wind continued. He waited eyes open, and alert. He felt alive. Adventures like this he could picture himself doing over and over. He watched and listened. Still nothing. He knew he needed to keep moving. He was not sure how much farther to the north the lake was.

Softly he rose from his leafy seat. He picked another clump of basswood trunks visible across the bowl before. His northward steps were silent with only a slight leaf rustle. Boone had learned much about travel in the woods. The lake was ahead. He was eager to see it.DSC_0040_1071sig

After reaching the basswood clump, a burl on a birch tree led him further north. Reaching the birch, he glanced north. He could see the blue-gray color of ice on the lake. He did not pick another north facing landmark. He silently made his way to the lake. Just before reaching the downslope towards the water he crossed two deer trails. He had not seen any on the way to the lake. Yet these two paralleled the lake shore and they were only a few yards apart. He did not dwell long on the deer trails. His eyes were pulled the vista of the lake before him. He was amazed at the small hump of land that formed an island in the lake. It was entirely tree covered. In the mid-morning sun it glowed. Movement on the north end of the island shifted his gaze. A bird of prey drifted southward against the wind. He watched as the wind lifted it westward and behind the island out of sight.

He lingered on the edge of the lake for a few moments. The hike had been worth the effort. His reward was not the sighting of a deer, mink or even the fisher he knew lived in the park. His reward was something he knew he would picture again over and over in his memory. The lake pristine, its shoreline undeveloped and the feeling of wildness were his rewards. He made plans to return, for a longer hike next time. It was time to meet his grandfather. He knew the way back and how long it would take him. He turned and faced into the wind. He still hoped to get a glimpse of a whitetail deer. Boone resolved he could come back. There was much more to learn about this place. It was a better than usual morning.DSC_0119_1092

Boone’s Morning

Join me in something new. It’s been on my mind for an extraordinary long time. Meet Boone. He’s a 11-year old boy. He delights in the mysteries and wonders of nature. My idea is to use Boone to share with you some of my nature experiences. Boone is my fictional character, I chose his name today. Boone means good, a blessing.  His experiences will be based on real events in nature. My wish for you is that you enjoy this first adventure of Boone’s. My eyes actually have seen what you will read about in this first story.

Let’s call it “Boone’s Morning.”

 As far back as he could remember in his 11-year-old life, Boone had liked being outside. This morning was no different. He was taking a solo hike for 3 hours in a 10,000-acre park. This park had been returning to nature for nearly 50 years. He was ready. He’d been outside since he was old enough to walk. His grandfather had carefully taught him to be observant, and he knew how to listen to life outside. Boone could walk quietly. He knew his way in the woods.

 This was the first time Boone would go alone. His grandfather would drop him off. The drop off was just an approach, a little driveway that ended at the woods. He had his cell phone compass to keep his bearing, but he planned to walk due north. There was a lake ¾ of a mile distant. Boone planned to see it. His grandpa would be back in 3 hours.

 Boone looked into his grandpa’s eyes. He saw them tear up. But he heard grandpa’s strong voice, “You know what to do, enjoy this Boone.  I’ll be waiting here 3 hours from now like we planned.” Boone just nodded. He put his hand on grandpa’s arm. His smile said thanks. Boone turned to the woods while his grandfather drove away. The wind was strong at his back, at times it gusted over 20 miles an hour. It made a roar in the tops of the trees. Boone liked it. He did not like that the wind would move his scent in front of him long before he could see the wildlife that made this magnificent hardwood forest home. He determined to be ultra-quiet as he moved northward toward the lake which was his morning destination.

 He paused after his steps had taken him far enough from the road that he could not be seen. One thing he liked about the first few minutes in a wild place was the sense of the unknown. He did not know what he would see or hear. This mystery never got old. He gazed around him in a 360-degree swing taking in the whole woods. It smelled good here. The roar of the wind was muted. His heart swelled, this was better than he expected already.

 He took out his phone and turned on the compass. He knew he was facing north. But he knew grandpa would want him to check. North, it was. He carefully stored his phone in a zipped pocket. He took another deep breath of sweet forest air. Somewhere ahead lay the deep lake that was his morning destination. He smiled and thought, “I can do solo hikes like this for the rest of my life.” Once more he slowly scanned the trees for any sign of life. He really wanted to see a whitetail.DSC_0031_1069sig

 Then he took his first step. (to be continued.)