Saturday, November 22, 2014

Iced Over Early

The monster storm that buried Buffalo with lake effect snow brought us days of cold weather.  Our Unadilla River is sporting an unusually early appearance of ice.  Taken from the bridge in Rockdale, this picture shows ice on the still water near shore.  In our long ago younger days we dug the aquatic larval stage of the Dobson fly to use as bass bait in the channel to the left of the small islands.  That was a two person job.  One held a wire mesh wood framed screen nearly perpendicular to the flow of the water while the upstream person overturned stones with a stone fork.  Dobson larvae would wash onto the screen.  Many happy hours were spent securing bait and catching the elusive smallmouth bass.

Here the Unadilla River flows past the bottom land to the left that was part of the former farm that includes our homestead.  Becky's father had a boat chained to a nearby tree.  This is where we turned the Dobson larvae into bass.  Rapidly moving water midstream will remain unfrozen for most of the winter.  Prolonged severe cold is necessary to freeze this part of the river from bank to bank.

Deep still water has already frozen across the width of the river.  In days long past, the New York Ontario and Western Railway tracks ran just behind the pine grove centered in the photo.  Passengers left the trains to picnic and enjoy the river here.  In the distant left center of the picture, outlined against the sky, the row of pines rising above the ridge belongs to us.  We usually feature photos that show what is happening at home but today we took a short drive.

 Here skin ice is trapped in the swirling currents upstream from the remains of a mill dam.  Part of the stone mill building is now used as a restaurant.  Not surprisingly, it is named The Old Mill.  A family group of five ducks flew from the open water in response to my presence.  My focus was on not slipping down the bank into the cold water so there is no picture of the flying ducks.

This  pond was scraped by enlarging a shallow depression cut by a small stream.  Beavers raised the level of the natural outlet considerably increasing the size of the pond soon after the bulldozer left.  Apparently the Department of Environmental Conservation could not take issue with the actions of the beavers so this artificial/natural pond persists.  Geese recently gathered here in impressive numbers as they organized themselves for migration.  Not ready to fly south just yet, the ice has moved them into nearby manure rich corn fields.  All of this ice may soon be gone when 60 degree air temperatures and falling rain leave their mark on the landscape.

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