I drove West from the South Shore Club yesterday. I drove up and down and around the curves of South Lakeshore Drive, and when I had the chance I turned left, South, into Country Club Estates and through the entirety of it. I needed some rags, rags to bring to the new house to wipe caulk, or blood, or sweat, but increasingly as this construction crawls towards a distant completion, mostly tears. Before I made it to the hardware store I passed the boat repair shop, and in the driveway sat a boat. It had been some time, two months or so, since I had last seen that boat, and yesterday when I saw it again I admit to forgetting about it from that moment until the moment that I had last seen it. It was my boat. My white, sputtering, boat. And it had been a while.
Who could care about a boat meant for water while abiding in a world cursed with ice? I had dropped that boat off on a late afternoon in late January, and at the time it seemed like just the thing to do. Boat repair places get busy in the spring, so I would beat that rush and have my boat ready for the moment the ice receded and returned the lake to us until sometime late next January. I wouldn’t be caught off guard like last year. Last year it was 80 degrees or so quite often, and shrieks of global warming filled the airwaves. While this was going on my boat was parked where it spends each winter, behind a broken down shed on a borrowed property, a tarp that failed to keep most of the water out flapping in the wind. I rushed last year to get that boat seaworthy, but I was slow and I had let spring defeat me.
So on that day in January I was determined to not repeat my mistake. The boat was to be repaired, tweaked, tended to in a January way that might make March boat times less troublesome and potentially less smokey. But this is March now, and this is a month no longer meant to be enjoyed. This month, my boat sits in the lot where I dropped it, and though the repairs have been completed and the those items in need of tinkering have been tinkered with, there is no reason to drive in that driveway and latch that boat trailer onto a borrowed truck. What would I do with it if I had it tethered? I could drive it back to the dirt patch, a patch now covered in drifts of snow and patches of ice, and I could leave it there. That’s all I could do with it, and though I took one step forward in January I refuse to take two steps back in March.
It was suggested to me this week that this is all my fault. That my celebration of spring was premature. I sheepishly admit to this sin. It is my fault. I have jumped the gun and this is our spring of punishment. I also, on a selfish day last December, wished for a late spring so that I wouldn’t be tempted to leave my work desk and leave my fledgling house and drive to the lake to jump on that white boat. I asked to be delivered from temptation, and today, this sunny, EIGHT degree day, I’m begging for a chance to be tempted. I need to see water, to see redemption, to know that this winter can’t possibly last forever. Can it?
The ice today is thick, and it’s mean, and it is a most formidable opponent. I fear it will never leave, but leave it must and leave it will. I cannot remember an ice out any later than early April, maybe the 8th of that month, but this year, the odds are very, very high that this ice lasts longer than that. There are benefits to it, certainly. Weed growth will be limited from the lack of sunlight permeating the depths, and the water level issues from last fall have likely been corrected by the combination of high precipitation and no evaporation. So the overall is good, but my pasty, dry arms tell me that this cold isn’t good for much else.
Send me an email today, guessing the ice out date, and I’ll give you some sort of prize. It might be a leftover scrap of wood from my house, but a prize it will still be. Official ice out will be determined solely by me, and I’ll call it complete when the last bits of ice are crushed and pushing against the some downwind shore. Email me with your best guess, and I’ll see about digging up some worthwhile loot. In the mean time, if you pass my boat at Ship Shape Marine, just look away.