The cottages around the lake are locked, their pipes drained, shades pulled. Where just months ago kayakers floated on silky waters, now a pickup truck zooms onto the frozen lake, towing something that looks like a deluxe privy. A handful of shanties are sprinkled across the ice—a spontaneous colony of mostly quiet anglers. I find one of them crouched over his fishing hole, withdrawing his line. The monofilament is so slender, it’s hard to see; it’s as if he’s pantomiming the act with his hands. Finally, he crooks a finger in the emerging fish’s gill as he pulls out a lake trout. Its scales are emerald, mottled with iridescent, leopard-like spots. The man has just executed a magic trick, pulling this shimmering creature from the lake’s bottom—a gambler’s payoff in the coldest, least hospitable casino. He measures the fish against his tackle box ruler: just barely legal. He studies his treasure once more, then lets it slip back through the hole. In a swish, it is gone. The only sounds are the shushing wind, the buzzing of a gas-powered auger, and then, in odd moments, the booming ice. It’s a low bass sound, lubb-dub—the beat of a lake-size heart.
About this Podcast
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.