happiness is a frozen lake


Jocelyn Bethune and Simone Carmichael enjoy tea on the Bras d’Or Lake.

A few days ago, my friend Jocelyn Bethune posted some wonderful photos on her Facebook wall, that Simone Carmichael had taken. I shared one of them in the Dream Big Facebook group, and after that Jocelyn wrote to me to share what she had written on her new blog about the ice playground.

After last night’s rain, it may have been the last of the ice, but then again, who knows? Winter has been a trickster this year.

Here are Jocelyn’s words from her blog HistoryGeek. She’s a wonderful storyteller; enjoy!

There is a new playground in Baddeck and its making this long winter very bearable.

For probably only the second time in the last two decades, the Bras d’Or has frozen over. Oh, the lake down the Bay usually freezes, but now, you can step off the wharf in Baddeck and skate down the Bay. Or across to Kidston Island.

Today, under the brilliant blue sky, there were some 40 of us out there, on top of the waves, skating, flying kites, playing hockey and generally enjoying this otherwise unbearable winter. There were teens twirling around; three pink-outfitted girls with three very brilliant pink hockey sticks, a couple of kites flying high overhead, several hockey games and some races. And there was laughter. Lots and lots of laughter; sweet sounds floating up from the various pockets of activity. And even those folks who didn’t part take, stood on the shoreline and smiled.

It’s not like the lake has never frozen over before – it used to. All the time. Every winter. Until the 1950’s, the lake was bushed – cut trees were lined up in roadways so people would not lose their way as they traveled across the ice. And anyone who grew up here in Baddeck in the 60’s and 70’s has been reminded of their fond memories lately, of playing stick hockey on the bumpy ice; of racing snowmobiles down the bay and for true dare devils – doing spirally-donuts in a car with the icon lighthouse before you. And it was not just teenagers who did this – for years, one old guy was the barometer for the village. “If Red Rory has his car on the ice, then it’s safe.” At night, there would be bonfires scattered around the shorelines, as the magic went on into the night.

There is something magical about walking, even standing, where you know it is impossible to, at virtually any other time of the year. There is something magical about how easy it is to step off terra firma onto the lake top and there is something magical about the entirely different view I see from there of the place I call home. The island, which is a quick 5 minute boat ride away in the summertime, is now a 20 minute walk. This great vast , flat distance is so much a part of our community, but to step onto the ice is to truly experience it. I realized today that when faced with that amount of space, we become little children – just wanting to run and jump and fill it.

What adds even more to this sense of magic is the feeling that if we don’t enjoy this wonderful opportunity today, it could be gone tomorrow. With temperatures warming and some rain, well, maybe this day was our last day to enjoy the ice. We won’t even know until it is too late.

So if you haven’t gone on the ice yet, go! Feel the great expanse of space between Baddeck and the island. Take a look back at Baddeck and see home with a new perspective. Stand and look at the brilliant blue sky and how glorious it looks with the sea of white. Embrace the magic. It may be gone tomorrow.

And just for some more ice-related goodness, here is some lovely background music made on Lake Baikal. Or is that with Lake Baikal?


This entry was posted in Active living, Community, Day to Day Life, Guest posts, History, Outdoors, Towns + communities, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to happiness is a frozen lake

  1. Anne MacDermid says:

    Looks like Simone and Josylyn are stepping out of the box a little. Very magical.
    Loved the Baikal Ice drumming. So enjoying your blog Leah.

  2. Carina says:

    It’s hard to believe it’s the same place we visited in August!! Wow. It was great to meet you after following your blog. I still read all of them, thoroughly enjoying a remote connection to life on Cape Breton. Best wishes, carina

  3. Joan lewis says:

    A great story and picture by two great story tellers, together, in their own distinct way. Wow. And thanks for reminding us of things we may have forgotten, like the ice test… that being, Mickey Red Rory, bless his soul. So true. Thanks for bringing this back to life and keeping it alive here too. Well done ladies.

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