“First Ice!” and dodos: “Bowman’s Bits”

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Credit: Dale Bowman

Yes, “First Ice!”

OK, maybe I am stretching the definition of “first ice” beyond the breaking point.

But I about fell over this morning when on the far end of the morning ramble with Lady, our family’s mutt, I saw skim ice on a puddle on the far end of an extended ramble. (I have been doing about a 2-mile-plus ramble every morning since the election.)

I double-checked, but yes it was skim ice.

I rather facetiously called it “First Ice!” because we are so far away from anything like that.

But it is funny how quick two mornings with real frost can cool the earth and form skim ice.

“First ice” matters in my work because it is often the most exciting ice fishing and the strongest ice, even if some of the thinnest, for ice fishermen.

I have been doing the Midwest Fishing Report for the Sun-Times for 20 years. For many years, Nov. 15 was considered the general point for “first ice” in the favored northern Wisconsin areas, but that has gradually been shifting later. I suspect related to climate change. But years vary greatly.

Obviously, we are not close to ice fishing, even way up in the North Woods.

On the Chain O’Lakes, it is a gift year when ice fishing begins on Thanksgiving. With that in mind, I gave Greg Dickson, the proprietor of Triangle Sports and Marine in Antioch, a jab a couple weeks ago and asked, “Do you think there will be ice fishing by Thanksgiving?”

There were long moments of silence, then he asked, “Are you a dodo?” It is good to give a jester such as Dickson the business now and then. Keeps life interesting.

For the true dodos among us, dodos are extinct flightless birds.

Things can change.

“First ice” will come eventually. I think.

(I am going to start doing “Bowman’s Bits” periodically. I find during my regular work as the outdoors columnist for the Sun-Times that I come across tidbits or pieces in the outdoors, which don’t fit into a column or elsewhere but that are interesting in their own right. Where I first thought of starting this was on a trip to Stone Lab on Lake Erie and finding how a butterfly garden was constructed on South Bass Island. Months later I begin with this.)

In honor of starting this, I throw in a rather beautiful sunrise yesterday morning. Another sort of beginning.

Credit: Dale Bowman

Credit: Dale Bowman

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