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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spring is here, at least we're getting the crazy changeable weather normally associated with the end of March, and this year March weather in April is the best we can hope for given the way weather has been.  For those of you not living here, we still have about a foot and a half of snow on the ground in most places and bare ground only on a few wind-swept knolls like across the pond from us above Route 15 where the afternoon sun hits.  Yesterday was warm with a very foggy start and a few showers, then some sleet and snow as the temperature dropped in the afternoon, and today we're enjoying snow squalls with the temperature just at the freezing point.  We lost a couple inches of snow yesterday, and although it's been snowing most of the morning, it isn't building much, so I doubt we'll add any appreciable amount.

I took this picture this morning as the snow was just beginning. It shows we're making some progress.  As I've been going through the old issues of the St. Johnsbury Caledonian searching for items about West Danville, I've noted the dates the ice went out in years past.  The reports are vague, with remarks such as "the ice went out a few days ago," or "the ice is out of the first two ponds and half out of the big pond."  Here are the reports I found:  May 8, 1890; April 27, 1891; May 3, 1892; about April 28, 1894; about May 5, 1895; about April 30, 1897; sometime before May 4, 1898; April 25, 1901; April 21, 1902; by May 9, 1906, and the 2nd week in May in 1907.  Actually it seemed pretty consistent that it went between the last week of April and the middle of May, or about at most a three-week time frame.  It is also interesting that as soon as a boat could be floated, the fishermen were out.  After a long winter, I suppose people were hungry for a good meal of fresh perch.  I haven't found any reference to ice fishing yet, but I'm only up to 1909.

Back in the day when harvesting the ice was big business on Joe's Pond, 15 to 18 inches of "blue ice" was considered about perfect, and they would begin harvesting as soon as that depth was reached, sometimes as early as late November.  Waiting until later in the year could mean working in much colder weather or increase the possibility of a "January thaw" that would result in a lesser quality of ice.   The blue ice was just frozen water.  The imperfect, or "white" ice had snow and air trapped within making it less dense and therefore would not keep well.  What we have right now on the pond is a fair amount of frozen slush both on top and underneath the 20 inches of blue ice Everett Drew reported last week.  We're well past the clear blue ice stage!  

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