The air temperature has risen two degrees in the last 15 minutes since I donned my hoody, coat, slipper boots and gloves and escaped to the screen porch.
Now 16 degrees on a late February Saturday, birds go unseen but make their presence known with high-pitched tunes, delivering a bounty of melodious messages through frigid air.
Rising rays of a late-winter sun warm my barren cheeks.
During this polarizing spell between winter and spring, the frozen lake finds its voice, quaking loudly from north to south, and then south to north.
While nature decides what it wants to be, lake ice carries on, methodically calling out, like a clarion mediator, making an auditory scene, arbitrating for spring's arrival, during what otherwise is known as ice-out.
While the sun climbs higher in a blinding bluish-white sky, thawing crystals below are synchronized tuning forks, percolating pockets of percussive tones that erupt into what becomes a quaking ice formation.
Sounding off, usually straight down the middle, rarely from the edges, this symphony of erupting ice molecules testifies in D-Major to a rebirth brought on by welcome southerly air currents.
This most unusual show, a blessing to be sure, is only heard when the Earth turns on its axis, distancing itself from the Sun, which in due time casts more direct burning rays.
Deep growling tones, now melting from the bottom up, zealously prophesying a coming, a conversion.
Empowered once again, melt-water begins to reappear, preaching from its gritty pulpit, "I shall rise with my frothy waves, rolling to and fro shoreline to shoreline, triumphant. I shall regain my sea legs and join schools of fish and choruses of honking Canada geese, twittering nut hatchers, pitchy red-winged blackbirds and song less shrilling fisher kings."
Now, 18 degrees outside, wind chimes gently swaying, strike various chords, telling of a light breeze.
This rumbling frozen lake smacks of the first spring thunderstorm, hardly recognizable with its overhead baritone crackling, hovering ubiquitously, like a soaring jet at 35,000 feet.
Only this booming resides buried in icy tundra, restlessly wanting change, wrestling out of slumber, stretching limbering bones.
Like us, it groans for a springtime adoption, remembering its sweet perfume and soft embrace and desiring spring's regenerating aura.
Shaking off that old antagonist winter and giddy over changing seasons, the crackling lake shimmers with delight in growing morning light.
Ice-out always makes such a ruckus, reverberating edgy echoes while the air temperature climbs above 32, putting on a promising extravaganza of surround sound….
Heralding an end…
Announcing a beginning.
In unison with dozens of dirty slush piles trickling into clear watering streams, turning once frozen ground to a sticky muddy mess, the lake proclaims spring thaw.
Every year for 37 years, I in my front row seat eagerly await the curtain to rise.
Quietly, I listen for that voice, abrupt and brief, sounding only at this time of year. It gives an airy, sing-song pleasure, making me feel lighthearted and hopeful, ransoming me from sly old winter.
2012 © Copyright Paula Damon.
A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at email@example.com and find her on FaceBook.