harbor springs ice

Spring Pack Ice

Patrick O’Brien, who lives in St. Louis and Harbor Springs, shares a story from early May.

Late Spring

It is so strange to feel blocked in by pack ice in May. Looking across Little Traverse Bay from Harbor Springs to Petoskey, there is no open water. Just large ice chunks made solid in their congestion upon each other. Spring is on for the rest of the lower 48, but Up North it has been a long cold winter. So the ice stays and moves with a rhythm and purpose that takes on its own personality.

One morning, the east end of Little Traverse Bay will be choked with ice, tight enough to take weight. One senses defiance. The ice is not willing to go down quietly into the night. The next morning, that same ice will completely fill in the harbor of Harbor Springs. How it got there so fast in such a large group without a sound or sense of movement is striking, unsettling.

The white takes on a sheepish hew, as if it’s a little embarrassed to have snuck into the town under cover of darkness. The chunks of iceberg stay together and bunch up like teenagers, unsure of themselves or what they are about to do just yet. It’s not beach time, the breeze blowing across the ice strewn water has an edge and bite. Yet the sand dunes block that edge well enough. the sun has begun its job, warming the sand and making it welcome. Nestle into the dun behind the dune grass. That will be as close as you can get to summer for a few more weeks, yet.



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