This past weekend Schroon Lake hosted its annual Ice Fishing Derby. The lake surface becomes a shanty town of optimistic fishermen in little huts dangling a hook in a hole in the ice. It’s also Party Central, as lots of alcohol is consumed, on and off the ice. Witherbees Restaurant holds its Annual Bayou Bob Crawfish Boil, in honor of Bobby Machutas, formerly of Louisiana and Charley Hill Road fame.
March is a month of patience. Great, strained, threadbare patience. It’s overtly illustrated by ice fishermen bundled against the elements (that’s where alcohol antifreeze comes into play), hoping to land that prize winning fish. But it’s also in the faces of animals. Our cat lies on the back of the chair, staring dully out the window, yearning for warm weather and active rodents. The horses are starting to shed a little and are teased by the occasional day in the 40's, only to be smacked back into temps in the teens, weary of frost on their whiskers and icy water buckets. My old man Cass used to get such a puss on his face come March, when the temperatures would take a dip. The chickens, who stopped laying altogether in November, started sporadically laying in mid-January. Getting 1-3 eggs a day out of 5 almost 4-year old hens isn’t bad.
I personally have been struggling with the winter blues this year, much worse than years past. I don’t know if it was the mid-January trip to balmy New Orleans, that made coming back to -20 such a kick in the head. This time of year, though, I start to worry if we’ll have enough firewood to get us through. I tire of my hands always being cold. By the end of March, I’ll be sick to death of putting wood in the woodstove. I’m ready to go play in the dirt and plant things and watch things grow.
I know that, in good time, I’ll be outside and I’ll feel that first warmish breeze on my face, and it will stop me in my tracks as I recognize and savor it. The snow pack will slowly go down; rivulets of water will begin to run down the driveway. The sun will pack a little more punch, putting some warm weight on my shoulders. It’s coming. It always does. I can almost feel it today. It’s a patience game. The trick is to make it through to the other side. Wait for it... wait for it...