Friday, April 18, 2008

What the Heck is "Ice Out?"

A neighbor remarked yesterday that our yard is one of only two in the neighborhood that still has enough snow "to make a snowball." It's true. There's a small, lingering patch of snow at the end of our driveway.

The good news is I'm pretty sure our snow will be history by the end of the day. It's actually 74 degrees outside! If you've never lived in New England, you're probably scratching your head right now, wondering how we can still have snow on the ground when it's in the 70s. I don't have a short, easy answer for that.

While we're busy watching the snow melt here in southern New Hampshire, I should mention that "ice out" is actually a big day for some folks in our state. New Hampshire officially declares "ice out" when the Mount Washington cruise ship on Lake Winnepesaukee can make all its ports of call. (The earliest recorded date was March 28, 1921 and the latest was May 12, 1888.) What does "ice out" day mean for those of us not on the ship?

Plain and simple, it means there's more open water for us to paddle. It's also when all the living organisms burrowed into the mud at the bottom of the water start to come to life. And it means the return of spring birds like loons and migrating waterfowl. It signals a time to locate your tackle box, because spring fishing has begun. Well, it doesn't all happen in one day, but you get the picture. If you're at all intrigued by the whole idea of ice out, there's a wonderful almost poetic article about the phenomenon here.

Maybe I'll start a poll. When do you think ice out will officially occur in New Hampshire this year?

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