Monday, April 29, 2013 9:36pm CDT

60 degrees F     Partly Cloudy   Wind SE 2mph
What a day!
I just came up from sitting by the lake.
The spring peeper frogs were singing.  The seagulls were making a racket as they sat on the ice out in the lake.  An almost full moon shown through high thin clouds.  It is a mild 60 degrees yet at this time of night.  And there is just a whisper of a gentle breeze.  And only one mosquito.
But the best part is that the loons were sitting on what open water there is on the lake and their mournful, haunting wail echoed across the lake.
Does it get any better than this?!
This is what it means to truly be "up north".
All seems to be well with the world when the loons are back on the lake and calling.
The ice continues to melt but the majority of the lake is still covered with ice.  But the warmth of the last few days has taken a toll on the ice.  I am not sure how thick it is out in the middle but it still seems to be thick enough to move back and forth on the lake as a single sheet in response to the wind.  
Yesterday it went from one side of the lake to the other.  And then this morning it moved back to the other side again.
We have much cooler weather coming in the next few days.  Undoubtedly that weather change will bring a change in wind with it and will move the sheet of ice again.
If it is still solid, the ice can do great damage along the shore as it moves.  Anything in its path does not stand a chance.  The power of ice is amazing.
If it has "rotted", it will break apart into shards of ice or what look like icicles.
Today the ice was 'turning black' but I am not sure it has completely weakened yet and I think there may be quite a bit of solid ice out there.
It is so tempting to try to put the nesting platform out now when there is so much open water on this side of the lake and a pair of loons is here and definitely calling like they are establishing claim to this as "their territory".
But as the shift in the ice showed yesterday, if the nesting platform had been out there, the ice would have destroyed it.  And the same is probably true of the next few days until the ice melts or breaks up.
I got a kick out of a story that one of our local television stations did on the 'amazing and unique thing that was happening on a lake that no one had seen before'.
They showed pictures of the wind driving the ice up on shore and the ice simply crumbling into icicles.  The sound was like ten thousands small glockenspiels being played.
The thing that was amusing is that this is not unusual at all.  It happens almost every year as the ice 'rots' and forms vertical icicles held together in a sheet.  When they hit something solid, they simply collapse.  The technical term that has been given to is is "chandeliering".  And that is an appropriate name.
The shards of ice look like the crystal pendants on a chandelier and they sound like the sound you would get if you shook a chandelier.  If you Google 'chandeliering', you will probably see many links to videos of what "ice chandeliering" looks and sounds like.
They also talked about how someone had said that in 1995 had said that this had happened on Mille Lacs Lake and that the ice 'piled into pile 20 feet high and had to be moved with back hoes'.
Once again, impressive.  But not unusual.
That happens almost every year on Mille Lacs as the wind drives the ice to one shore.  Piles of ice 30 feet high are not unusual.
There have been a few instances of the ice sheet not breaking up as the wind drove it off Mille Lacs and it actually went right up over US Highway 169 and closed the road until plows could be brought in to remove it.
Well, we have gotten way off the subject of loons!
But at least you have an idea of what is and will be going on in Minnesota lakes and things that our loons have to contend with.
But we take great comfort in the fact that at least one pair of loons is back here.
Is it our loons from last year?
Or another pair.
We watch and wait.
And hope.
Copyright 2013     Larry R Backlund