Every year I worry that my lake will have no ice. That snow will not drift, bury cabins, become an animal itself—one that everyone fears, secretly, openly, but also craves, like a lover. We want it to blanket, lull and daze. We want it to seal the fish in tight, a polar aquarium we auger into, then wait the dark hours. I worry that the land will lose its proximity to light. All those long winter days of sitting inside, fire tinkering, peeling orange after orange. Windows shed so much refracted light we must blink away the brightness by bringing tea-steam in close. Birch live this whiteness. They carry it all summer like candles striking here and there above the bracken. They hold vigil and bend when the wind finally whips water into a chevron of whitecaps. The lake grows restless with reflection and lily-pad-meditation, wants to impart some sort of future story…that docks will be hauled out along with rowboats by still-strong old men. That smokehouses will fume with fish stock-piled and salted. That next year, we might come back and lay our sunburnt shoulders against sheets ravining with sand, and stay turned towards one another. All this light between skin: the shedding of and the coming new. Geese highlight the way, telling us all to bow down low.
Every year, my lake craves a deep cold sleep.