Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ice

Sunday was bitterly cold here in Mathews, but the sun was out in all her finery.

Her rays danced off the thin coat of shimmering ice on Queens Creek, and I spent a great deal of time just sitting on the dock, absorbing the quiet and admiring the light show.

This is a zoomed-in shot of one of the boats in our cove, and strangely enough there happened to be a big vulture/turkey buzzard/hawk/super-sized crow or some other large black bird perched right there on a dock post beside the workboat.

But with all there was to take in and absorb, the ice stole the show.

Back when I came along in the 1950s 1970s the creek--and the bay for that matter--would freeze over frequently. We're not talking a slushy ice, we're talking ice that you could stand on. Skate on (with your feet stuffed into plastic bread bags inside your mother's over-sized work boots, just as an example). Tap dance on. Stomp on. And yes, drive a car on if one were so inclined.

Besides all the fun and entertainment a frozen creek provided us youngsters (click here for an ice skating story I'll never forget), there's one thing I'll always think of whenever I see ice on the creek.

When we had a big freeze, my father would go out--sometimes twice a day--to break the ice around each dock post. You see, when ice that thick freezes, it grips pretty tightly to the poles supporting the dock. That's all well and good until the tide comes in and pushes the ice--and the dock poles--up. And up some more. Until your dock is deformed. Next thing you know, you're having to hire someone to pound the poles back into the mud and rebuild your dock. This is definitely not a good thing. Definitely not.

In the 9 years since I've been back here, we've never had to worry about breaking the ice around dock poles because good, hard freezes just don't happen.

But every now and then we'll have a slight freeze like this weekend, and the memories of slipping and sliding on the ice with our feet stuffed in bread bags come flooding back.

And I wonder who came up with the brilliant idea of putting bread bags over one's socks, because everybody did it. At least around here.

What memories do you have of wearing bread bags on your feet ice and/or ice skating?

In other news, as I write this it's way, way late at night, and I have not been able to focus on anything except survival yesterday's Name that Ghost Contest. However, before the end of the week, we'll have ourselves a properly named ghost. Because that's what we do around here to distract ourselves from the things life throws our way. We hold contests to name ghosts.

By the way, it's not too late to submit an entry, seeing as I can't focus on anything it until later this week, when--oh by the way--
this lovely lady, this lovely lady, this lovely lady and I are headed north of the Mason Dixon Line to visit her, her, her and her. And the weather will be just dandy, and Amtrak schedules will not be impacted.

Pardon me while I prepare my acceptance speech for the Worst Blog Post Written While Asleep Most Consecutive "Hers" in One Sentence contest.


Ann Marie said...

ohh I have so many memories of "ice skating" on the ditch in front of my house. And I do mean DITCH! A few times we went to Cobbs Creek and ice skated with my uncle the whole time my mother squealing and shreeking.. that didn't make for such great memories. Sigh.

Jamie said...

I don't have any great ice skating memories, but I do remember the time we went to Deltaville to find our pier quite deformed with the pilings sitting on top of the muck instead of down in it. I thought I was quite brave to go stand on it high in the air. Haven't had that problem in a long time.

Anonymous said...

Skating on the creek in redart in the dark by the light of the dock lights some time in the 80's.....we had real skates tho!!!


Mathews Mark said...

It is 39 in my living room. You can skate in the tub if you like! CBW you know the story I have to tell. I will save Pookie for later. It was mid 70's I was dating my soon to be lovely wife (as in soon to be in the 70's). We had an ice storm for 2 days.Five degrees was the norm for the last ten days.There was no way I was going to steal (borrow) the car an get it down or mile long dirt lane. WE live on Stuts creek, my soon to be bride lived right across the creek from my family. Well I just had to see Her! My brothers and I had been eye balling the creek all week. We did the probing that teenagers do , but had not found the B@## (sorry said I was going to be nice today)guts to cross the creek.I just could not take it anymore.My girlfriend was calling me every five minutes (dial up) to come over.(Back then you had to talk to your girlfriend/boyfriend every five minutes not text them like today)My brothers were calling me chicken,my Mom was telling me : If you fall in no one is coming to get you. Her way of calling me chicken. That was enough (my mom calling me chicken What the_________)I'm going across! I put my bread bags on and headed out.By now my brothers had called everyone on the creek to watch this dummy fall in. As I started across I look and friends were lined up along the creek shore cheering (more like yelling YOU DUMA@@)My girlfriend was on the other side with her arms open, I'm going for it!I took off running (running on ice smart) and after about three falls I made it to the other side.I raised my arm like Rockie,all I heard as the crowd went back in to tend there fires was DAMN he made it, and my brothers laughing on the other side. After about three hours of hugs and kisses with my girl We look out on the creek WOW it looked like the Chevy Chase movie Funny Farm everyone was out there !My friend had 55 gal. drums burning wood,50 year old ice skates and sleds every were. And plenty of bread bags. My brother MMM not to be out done by me, and after MOM told him :If you fall in no ones coming to get you; took his 8N ford tractor out on the ice and pulled sleds all day. Maybe MMM can tell you more about that, it was something! I think there are pictures some were.Anyway that is one of my ice stories,got to warm up. MM

Meg McCormick said...

I didn't grow up near water, but one winter a low spot in the fields behind our house got really wet and flooded from rain, then froze solid. I strapped on my skates and probably refined my mad skating skillz more that winter in the field than I did on anyone's pond growing up. Of course we had cousins galore who had ponds, and they routinely froze solid enough for skating and hockey.

Speaking of ice, you should see the crazy icicles overflowing the gutters on my house. Can you say "ice dams"? I knew you could. I hear any damage caused by snow on the roof is covered by homeowners insurance. Just sayin'.

Meg McCormick said...

And by "they" I meant the ponds froze, not the cousins.

Country Girl said...

You guys are all crazy.

That's why I luvya.

Mental P Mama said...

I think those boats are on my dock...And Amtrak is going to get everything in order. They are scared of Ann Marie.

Linda said...

We had a low spot (maybe knee deep) and a creek out in the field behind the house. My Sis & I got skates one year for Christmas. We used to throw a stick out on the 'pond' for the dog to fetch. If he didn't fall through it was safe for us. I'm telling you we were Peggy Fleming on that ice!

Julie said...

What a great picture...so beautiful.

Daryl said...

Ice skating in NYC means going to an ice skating rink. Central Park (we can go see this!) had Wolman Rink and Rockefeller Center (we can see this too!) had Rockefeller Center Rink (they didnt get too clever with the names, they are based on who donated the dough to put the rink in.. rink, isnt that a weird word?) ANYWAY ... eons ago I went to Wolman Rink with my then Girl Scout troop .. we had fun, someone decided to do a 'whip' where everyone links hands and skates fast in a line.. the last person (that day it was me)gets let go suddenly and usually skates off .. I was let go and wasnt prepared (apparently I was not a good Scout .. they are always prepared) and I .. well.. I fell ... hard .. hit my head .. hard.. there are those who say that's why I am the way I am ... I had a concussion .. I threw up ... it was not pretty and my mother freaked out ... I did live to skate another day but I never played 'whip' again... clearly I am programmed to learn from my mistakes ...

I think I used more ... in this comment than I ever have ..

My WV is dileco .. I did let go .. see this validates my parking,er, commenting ;-)

Trisha said...

Bread bags on my feet . . . now that brings back memories!

Meg McCormick said...

@Daryl - OUCH!!! They urge everyone at our rink to wear helmets, probably for that reason.

Caution/Lisa said...

Skating for us was at a rink and I was always amazed how well my parents could skate but that I could not stand up. Now my kids skate and I still can't stand up. Pathetic, isn't it?

Have a wonderful trip!!!

Mathews Mark said...

They urge me to were a helmet when I get on the bus!!

big hair envy said...

You haven't LIVED until you've gone out to play in the snow with bread bags on your feet!!! Although, the rubberbands holding them up did get a little tight from time to time...

Anonymous said...

I remember skating on Stutts Creek as a child too. My parents are good friends with the Ingrams who happen to be the parents of MM's girlfriend he was talkng about. I actually remember seeing a tractor out there one time. Probably the same event he mentioned! I had forgotten all about that! The bead bags bring back lots of memories too!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

AM-The ditches were as good as a creek. We're all underwater here anyway--ditch, creek, Route 198, bay it all runs together at high tide.

Jamie-Know exactly what you're talking about with the deformed dock. My father was none too pleased.

kl-You had real skates? I never knew anyone around here had real skates. Where would you even buy them? Well, at least you got to avoid the humiliation of the whole bread bag thing.

MM-I did hear about your brother driving the tractor on the snow. I also heard a man over on the Eastern Shore talk about how someone drove a car from Onancock to Tangier. Now THAT is brave. Stupid or brave, one or the other. Perhpas lucky too.

Meg-Ice dams. Or dams ice?

CG-Crazier than loons. I think I'm getting T-shirts with that saying for Blog Fest. Or my next family gathering.

MPM-Amtrak is going to have to hire a bodyguard to fend off AM if the weather shuts the train down. But we're reciting this repeatedly as we click our heels together three times: "It's going to be fine. It's going to be fine."

Linda- You had real skates too? We were just depraved as children. I mean deprived.

Julie - thanks. It's impossible to take a bad picture around here with all the scenery.

Daryl-That sounds awfully painful, you probably did have a concussion. Rink IS a weird word, which may explain why so many folks around here used to say skating ring. These are the same people who say Santa comes down the chimbley. These are also the same people who leave their Christmas tree up year 'round, not that I'm talking about anyone in particular.

Trisha - I know. It's strange what you remember, and I still can't understand how we all knew about this bread bag thing. I mean it isn't like mothers were reading blogs or texting each other with tips or anything. How did they all find out about the bread bags? I won't rest until I find out. Maybe Walter Cronkite mentioned it on the nightly news?

Meg-Helmets. The anti-helmet movement is still very strong here in Mathews, it never really took hold. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just sayin' that people would rather not participate in the activity than wear a helmet. Unless it's to play football.

CF-You might be the first person I've ever met who had parents who ice skated. I mean together. At the same time. I never even saw that at the roller skating rink. Parents, that is. Saw plenty of young couples but no parents. Very interesting. Your parents were probably very happy.

MM-Probably good advice.

BHE - THE RUBBER BANDS! How could I have forgotten? That was the worst part.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Trinia - That's amazing that you remember the tractor event! So we have an eyewitness. Too funny.

Keeper Of All Things said...

Ahhh bread bag days......
Good times
Good times

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Keeper-Still I need to know - who thought of putting bread bags on feet and then more importantly who spread the word? Because clearly this was more than a regional thing. It's just strange.

Meg McCormick said...

It's "damn ice dams" I think.

The breadbag thing I attribute to grandmas who came up during the Depression. Mine saved bread bags AND made us rewash styrofoam plates and ups till it was embarassing. And, she would make a meal out of what appeared to me to be weeds plucked from the back yard, but was in fact dandelion, which she would cook to bacon or pork fat and make a sweet & sour gravy. to me, it tasted like grass smelled, but everyone else loved it. Talk about your thrifty meal!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Meg, you have just described my very own grandmother, who I always said could make a feast out of an empty cupboard/icebox. You're right about everyone back then saving and re-using everything.So now I can understand having a stash of bread bags on hand.

But who thought of putting the bread bags on your FEET? And how did the word spread so far and wide without modern-day technology?

These are the questions that will torment me, but you've definitely put us on the right path towards finding answers.