Breaking the ice

It’s just a pond. A small, weedy, mucky man-made pond put in by subdivision developers decades ago. Just a few tenths of a mile from our house, it’s our usual terminus for a short walk with the dog. And that’s what my daughter and I were doing that day, taking our old dog for a quick walk.

We also had a secondary mission: to see if it was frozen over. Or at least that’s how I talked her into going with me.

It was frozen, just barely. The ice spread across the surface, raised slightly in a delicate feather pattern. It looked about as thick as plastic wrap. My daughter touched the edge with the toe of her boot, expecting it to crumble away. It didn’t give. She tapped harder. Nothing. She punched her foot down with force and the ice gave way, a big chunk of it sinking straight down. She pulled her mitten off, slid her bare hand into the hole, and pulled out the broken piece. Half an inch thick. We were both impressed.

She pulled her hand back and hurled the chunk as hard as she could. She’s a pretty docile kid so this was unexpected and I turned to say that. Then the piece hit the surface and shattered. Little bits skittered across the feathered ice with the sound of ringing crystal. They slid a hundred feet or more, the chiming sound filling the air around us. We looked at each other, surprised and delighted. She stamped out another piece and threw it. Same thing.

“You try,” she said.

I jabbed my foot down onto the ice. It really did take quite a bit of force to break it but I finally managed a palm-sized piece. I skimmed it like a skipping rock and it slid nearly out to the middle of the pond, ringing as it went. “Nice one,” she said. I felt like a magician.

We worked our way down one side of the pond, stamping, breaking, and flinging. She noticed that the ice got thicker as we moved away from the outflow stream and so we discussed why that happened. We experimented with different throwing styles. All were effective. One piece slid close to the bank and disappeared with a splash, so we walked over and discovered a little inlet we didn’t know was there. Finally our frozen fingers became too much to bear so we stuffed them back in our mittens and headed home.

Intended length of walk: 10 minutes. Actual length of walk: almost an hour.

“I didn’t think you’d be gone that long,” my husband said when I walked in the door.

It’s just a pond. So you need to bring your own fun.

Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.