Thursday, December 30, 2010



Ten days ago we had a beautiful, soft snowfall, backlit by a full moon at sunrise.  Extraordinary morning light.  

Today, by contrast, the air temperature is up to 39 F, it is drizzling, and the snow has melted into mush.  True, island roads have mostly cleared of ice, but the unpleasantness of plowed up hunks of lawn sod and the residue left by town sand trucks is exposed, reminder of a long slog into summer.  

Out on the ice this past week, local fishermen had towed their ice shacks out from shore and tried their luck perch fishing.  We had gotten used to watching their activity, from early morning before daylight to late in the evening after dark, as trucks, snowmobiles and four-wheelers came and went.  This morning many of those same shacks have been towed back to the safety of near-shore, where the ice is safe.  Puddles caused by rain and melting snow have created small ponds here and there ten inches deep.  The pulling vehicles created a wake as they negotiated their way back toward the end of Main Road.  

Jeff Andersen, Andrew Rainsford and Jack Rose had just removed an ice shanty, a dark mass appearing out of the fog as they headed toward shore.  Then they contemplated their next move.   The pattern of winter recreation for these fishermen will be adjusted for a few days until temperatures get below freezing and the harbor ice becomes solid and slick once again.   Fishing for perch in Detroit Harbor had been more a testing of the conditions, anyway, they told me, with small perch few and far between.

No Ice Enroute, Yet

On the open water, there has been almost no floating ice seen beyond the island docks, and none at Northport, either, although the breakwall shows off a thick winter coat of ice from the last wind storm.  Ice beards hang at an odd angle from the entrance light structure, stalactites formed in the 40-50 mph freezing gales.

Kite Flying

Late Tuesday afternoon grandson Atlas and I walked out on the  ice-covered snow to fly kites.   

It was 37 degrees,  a raw but yet ideal, steady wind from the SW, and a clear sky.  It was perfect for launching our kites.  After removing a few tangles, Atlas had his kite up and flying, a parachute-style with lots of pull.  I encouraged him to give it more string as it rose higher and higher, while I broke out kite #2 and readied it for flight.  

By the time my kite was airborne, a simple trapezoidal kite that flew almost directly overhead, Atlas had released some 300 feet of string, out to the final knot on the spool.   

I suggested we trade kites so that I could wind a few turns back on the spool as a safety cushion.  That's where we ran into trouble. 
While passing it between our thick gloves, gusts tugged at the kite and the spool lifted off across the snow,  almost like slow motion, it seemed.  A quick sprinter could retrieve it from just beyond where we stood, I thought, and with my encouragement Atlas took after it.  But he slipped on the snow as the spool bounced, then became airborne, heading for the passenger side door of a parked fisherman's truck.   Atlas regained his feet, giving chase, but another gust pulled the spool up and over the truck (rather than snagging on the side mirror, as I had hoped), and all we could do was watch it sail smartly toward Holiday Inn and a large grove of poplar trees.   

This is where our kite came to rest, some twenty feet off the ground, a colorful fixture until the next gale plucks it from the branches, or it becomes shredded material for a squirrel's nest.   

This had been a completely typical kite experience:  tangled tail and string, then a successful launch, a good flight, and, finally, loss of kite in nearby trees.  My only regret, one that marred our experience, was when I muttered "Dammit" as the spool jumped from our gloved grasp.  That would be the only thing I would want returned, if I could.
  -  Dick Purinton      


Name said...

Such a beautifully written snapshot. Thank you for sharing your writing.

debbi d-w said...

Beautiful photo with the moon!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dick,

I don't know much about this blogging stuff, but hope this note gets back to you. I really enjoyed your TPAC news and thought it was extremely well written. I will show it to John and also the rest of the blogs. I know he will enjoy reading all about the boats, ice, and water conditions. You do a great job.

Thanks again, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Patty H.