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Even though the air temperature never went above ten degrees, the weather was mild because the wind was light and the sky cloudless. With their wells freezing up and their world nearly still, the inhabitants of the town took to the ice in a barrage of Dutch pursuits that saw the sun rise and set, and gave the village the busy and peculiar appearance of a Flemish winter scene. Perhaps they had inherited it; perhaps the historical memory deep within them, like the intense colors with which the landscape was painted, was renewable.

A Dutch village arose along the lake. Iceboats raced from west to east and tacked back again, their voluminous sails like a hundred flowers gliding noiselessly across the ice. Up close, there was only a slight sound as gleaming steel runners made their magical cut. A little way in the distance, they sounded like a barely audible steam engine. Miniature villages sprang up on the lake, comprised of fishing booths ranged in circles, with flapping doors and curling pigtails of smoke from stovepipe chimneys. Firelight from these shelters reflected across the ice at night in orange and yellow lines that each came to a daggerlike point.

Boys and girls disappeared together, on skates, pulled into the limitless distance by a ballooning sail attached to their thighs and shoulders. When they had traveled so far on the empty mirror that they could see no shore, they folded the sail, put it on the ice, and lay on its tame billows to fondle and kiss, keeping a sharp eye on the horizon for the faraway bloom of an iceboat sail, lest they be discovered and admired to death by the younger children who sailed boats into the empty sections just to see such things.

Blazing fires on shore ringed inward bays and harbors like necklaces.

Sheet Music

At each one, there was steaming chocolate, or rum and cider, and venison roasting on a spit. Skating on the lake in darkness, firing a pistol to keep in touch with a friend, was like traveling in space, for there were painfully bright stars above and all the way down to a horizon that rested on the lake like a bell jar. The stars were reflected perfectly, though dimly, in the ice, frozen until they could not sparkle. Long before, someone had had the idea of laying down wide runners, setting the light-as-a-white-weddingcake village bandstand on them, and hitching up a half-dozen plough horses with ice shoes to tow the whole thing around at night.

When the farmers all along the undulating lakeshore saw a chain of tiny orange flames, and the shining white castle moving dreamlike through the dark like a dancer making quick steps under concealing skirts , they strapped on their skates and pogoed through their fields to leap onto the ice and race to the magic that glided across the horizon.

Cold Winter's Ice Is Fled Sheet Music by Thomas Weelkes

As they approached, they were astonished by the music, and by the ghostly legions of men, women, and children skating in the darkness behind the bandshell. They looked like the unlit tail of a comet.

Young girls twirled and pirouetted to the music: The lake was covered with snow by the time Virginia and her baby rode along its length in a huge troika pulled by horses heavy enough to shake even the thick ice of the Lake of the Coheeries as they pounded down the snow road. By afternoon, they were in the mountains, ascending steadily, turning on hairpin terraces from which they could see a world of white and blue.

Now and then a snowy hawk rose from the background camouflage of glistening bone-white fields, and navigated the ocean of air, slipping sideways on the wing more gracefully than a skater. As they neared the top of the range, they watched the effects of high winds upon the accumulated drifts.

Powerful continental gusts burst upon cornices and sculptured ridges, sending up vertical jets of loosed snow. Behind these white silk curtains were glowing rims of gold where the sun shone through their crests. There was so much screaming and whistling that the bells of the troika could hardly be heard.

The sleigh driver halted on a round cakelike knob, the summit. Resting there, they saw a landscape of ice and snow crossed and covered by hills and ridges from which white powder rocketed into the air. The horses dipped their heads and shook their ice-encrusted manes. Take one last look, for we are now on our way to a different place. The road led not through fields and past overlooks, but deeper and deeper within an untouched forest, between rock cliffs a thousand feet high, near ice-covered gorges where falls and flumes pounded like jackhammers and covered hundred-foot oaks in freezing spray.

They glided over dimly lit roads, springing upon shocked families of deer that had an air of offended innocence, and which they sent white-tailed into the forest, carrying their solid sixfoot horns like little battleaxes with which they smashed down waxy bushes bloody with red berries.


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They drove through vaulted mahogany-colored courses made by trees and snow, and the horses leapt ahead, swallowing the space in front of them and effortlessly compressing the air of the cool snow tunnels. Virginia held her baby to her, inside her coat. His mouth and nose stuck out of a navy cashmere balaclava, and he took the cold air like a puppy.

Virginia threw back her head to look for hawks and eagles, and was surprised at the many she saw perched in gothic nests high in the trees. They watched, unconcerned, as the troika slipped past. She dreamed of skating, and as so often happened the next morning she found herself replicating exactly what she had imagined. For hours and hours, she skated nearly in a trance, centered between the mountain banks, on a road of white ice. It would have been impossible to keep her in jail, since, no matter how far across the room the jailer hung his key she would have been able to hook the ring around a toe and bring it to her with one sinuous fold of thigh and calf.

So she was a natural speed skater. One long push was good for fifty yards: With Martin bundled up and riding on her back, she skated downriver, rounding its curling bends and keeping her eyes upon the converging shorelines and ice.

Cold Winter's ice is fled and gone

She would stop every now and then and put Martin in front of her, kneeling to check on him. He was so well wrapped that he slept as if he were at home in a cradle.


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  • Then she would hoist him up and begin again, more and more powerfully. Unlike other hibernators, bears will wake up and be active for brief periods. During the long cold months, black bears live solely off their accumulated body fat. They gain up to 30 pounds per week. Black bears do not urinate or defecate in winter. Instead, their body chemically breaks down these toxins and reuses them as energy.

    Weelkes, Thomas: Cold winter’s ice is fled (SSA (or T) TB) – Stainer & Bell

    Meet it head-on — Winter coats in fur or feather play a key role in survival. Some mammals have a dual winter coat. Longer outer, or guard, hairs act like a raincoat, deflecting moisture. Under, or insulating, fur provides an extra layer. A few northern species change fur color. Snowshoe hare and weasels long-tailed, short-tailed and least weasels change to white, camouflaged in snow. Others in the weasel family, such as mink and otter, build thick layers of insulating fat and special fur to keep dry.

    Certain animals use their fur and feathers in ingenious ways. Wolves, coyotes and foxes keep their feet warm by growing stiff bristly hairs around their toes for insulation and traction.

    Polar Vortex is on the move and can create Very Cold Winters in the US and Europe !!

    These canines have special blood vessels in their footpads to keep their feet just above the freezing point, preventing buildup of snow and ice. While snoozing, canines wrap their bushy tails around their feet and nose — retaining the warmth they exhale and recycling it into their feet. Ruffed grouse develop a protective feather coating on their feet and grow feathers to protect their nostrils from snow. Canada lynx, a true northern cat, uses its long legs to maneuver in dry, fluffy snow and gigantic snowshoe-like feet for support on the snow while hunting its main prey, snowshoe hare.

    Certain weasels and birds change activities to rest more and forage less. Pine marten spend time in subnivian under the snow hunting tunnels developed by tiny mammals. Time under snow protects animals from the elements and predators. And what about our tall north woods giants? Trees transfer sugars and import food reserves to their root systems. Deciduous trees lose leaves in the fall while conifers develop a waxy coating called cutin over their needlelike leaves. Conifers create growth patterns to minimize damage from snow and ice accumulation.

    Yes, we creatures of the north have little choice but to adapt to make it to spring. She passed away in October Sep 14, - Oct 14, Sep 1, - Oct 31, Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Aug 5, - Oct 7, Eagle Ridge at Lutsen Mountains. Jun 19, - Sep 18, Marquette Maritime Museum and Lighthouse. Jul 3, - Jan 1, Sep 19, 6: The Historic Congdon Estate. Sep 19, 7: Sep 20, 5: Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.