It is the ice fishermen that tell me Walden lies under a foot of ice. Despite the fifty degree day, the puddles forming the pond, a thick crust that makes it safe to walk upon, that separates the fish from them, the pond from the sky …
I chose not to walk on the ice. I head out around the main beach, the crust of remaining snow from last week’s fall crunching under my boots, melting and draining into saturated sand.
I come to Walden for photos and to be with myself … yet it seems that each time I come, I meet someone(s) and find myself uplifted by the happen chance conversation. Today, the fishermen, them telling me about the ice, their experience of fishing, “I remember one mid February, paddling a canoe and catching a fish this big” one of them motions to me a fish a third the size of his canoe…and I, trading stories of cold water swimming. “My last swim here was the end of November, and there are plenty others more hardy than me that continued to swim, only she froze a couple of weeks later” I call out to them across the divide of ice.
By the time we head back toward the ramp, them across the pond and me across the sand, we know we have met here before, them fishing while I have been swimming in the fall. We part ways saying we hope to meet again.
A week ago as I stumble along the shoreline on the opposite side of the pond, I run into a man striding along the ice as if it is solid and un-slippery ground. I ask “What are those things on your boots that you can grip like that?” We stop and he shows me the sole of a boot. They are micro spikes like the ones my friend advised me to get the previous week.
Before long we are heading off together, chatting. We talk about the friends we know, cold water swimmers, their bravery and their youthful antics, how hardy they are. He continues to stride out on the ice while I walk alongside the frozen pond.
When the sun deserts us back at the man beach I think how enriched my visit has been for our meeting.
I leave grateful to Walden for showing me these parts of myself…and knowing I will return for more…