Happily for me, Friday the 13th turned out to be a wonderful day for a short visit to Horseshoe Pond. Sometime about 10 A.M., I left the house for Presque Isle. I quickly become conscious that it was turning out to be a day of penetrating cold, damp and about 30 degrees. The wind was sharp and cutting. It was more than a bit energetic as it came off Lake Erie as a gift from Canada. It was bringing an arctic chill to the area on the wings of a low pressure system.
A featherlike snow was falling, and the wind was whipping it like cream. The roads on the park are passable, but care still needed to be taken, as under the snow, some ice was clinging to the road. The weather service had all morning been warning that we should expect a period of lake-effect snow most of the day. For Presque Isle, this could mean a lot of snow or almost no snow. Lake effect, which I will do a blog article about later, usually delivers more snow to the south and east of the park. Having said that, have you noticed that it does not always come out that way? For example, I have seen lake effect snow that buries the lakeshore and never touches the areas south of Erie.
After I had driven around the park and taken a few photos, I decided to look at what might be happening at Horseshoe Pond. Driving there, I noticed a change in the wind. It would dwindle for a short time, then veer in out of the west, and become forceful again. In spite of this, by the time I pulled into the first parking area at the pond, the winter weather decided to show its better side. The earlier stiff breezes of this morning had disappeared altogether, and now a fine snow with large crystals had begun to drift in the still air.
When I got out of the car, a pair of crows looked down at me from the top of a large cottonwood tree and loudly announced their displeasure at my presence in their domain. Signs of other wildlife were everywhere. Prints in the soil and sand, droppings on the pond-side rocks and a few feathers from what look like a small owl. Now that the wind has subsided, silence was wandering across the pond. Wind, with its huge power and presence, is one of nature’s foremost symbols of freedom.
As I walked along the edge of Horseshoe Pond, the temperature began dropping sharply. I could sense that it must now be rushing to well below freezing. With this drop in temperature, the complexion of the pond began to change. As I watched, I marveled at nature’s determined way of transforming the whole area into a completely new world right before my eyes.
The first detail I noticed was that the now slowly blowing breeze froze onto everything it touched. Grasses, the docks, nearby boats, and cattails were soon coated with a thin glaze of delicate ice crystals. The silhouettes of the trees and houseboats against the backdrop of falling snow and freezing mist are tantalizingly beautiful. Within a few minutes, you could hear a soft cracking sound as new ice crystals rippled across the surface of the pond as water was transforming into ice. I stood amazed. I had no idea that when water froze and there was a complete lack of other sounds, you could, in fact, hear its transformation.
Walking a bit farther along, I watched the floating crystals on the pond seem to move restlessly in the water even though there was now a complete calm in the air. As I watched in wonder, it seemed that they were magnetically being drawn together. It was not long after that I could see that their gathering was causing the whole surface of the pond to weave its way into a thin veneer of ice. It was like watching a magic show in slow motion. This whole scene made it seem as if the ice was appearing out of thin air.
Looking at my watch, I knew I could not stay much longer, as I had a meeting to go to, and by now more soft snow was floating down. The new clean snow seems to have an aroma that pricks my senses and excites my temperament. As I turned to walk back to my car and look out over the pond on this snowy Friday the 13th, a feeling of peace blushed through my body. Yes, Presque Isle is very special, and I wish more people would learn to enjoy its daily gifts.
This post was written by admin