For the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to be included in a long standing tradition of going ice fishing with a great bunch of guys. This year is no different and I can’t wait to go again.
My first year on the trip was especially exciting. Don, the host of our trip, had recently purchased a lovely little cottage (on a lake that seems to have various names depending on who you talk to) and was fixing to pull it down and build a nicer, winterized cottage. Some may wonder about the benefits of winterizing a cottage, but I can tell you that it is a good idea if you plan to spend any amount of time in one during the winter months especially if said cottage is in the Haliburton/Algonquin area. And especially if you intend to go when the expected high temperature for the day is -20C and the overnight low somewhere in the area of -35C. That first year, all of the above conditions were met. It was so cold that weekend that even though we had a hot, beautifully burning fire going for the whole time we were there, the temperature in the cottage never rose far above 10C. There were several arguments as to who would get to sleep on the floor closest to the fire. There was even a few feats of strength performed to gain such rights. I believe there was an alcohol and chill-in-the-bone fuelled competition involving a lit cigarette, an arm of each of the competitors, underwear in the outdoors and lots of name calling that resulted in one competitor getting that much closer to the fire in his sleeping bag. No one caught any fish that year. Few fish have actually been caught since I have been going on this trip. One last year by me, a complete and utter fluke (not the fish), one the year before. As far as I remember, that is it for the past 4 or 5 years.
So why go? Well it is not so much about the fishing. It is not so much about the large amount of alcohol consumed. It is not so much about the copious amounts of chips, beans, meat pies and beans consumed. It is about the joy of being in the Quiet North with a group of great guys of various ages and backgrounds making the Quiet North not so quiet for 48 hours. It is about sharing in the stories, jokes, ribbing and laughter with other guys that need to blow off a little steam and relieve themselves of the stresses of everyday life. It doesn’t matter if anyone catches a fish, though it gives us an experience to share in. What matters is coming to the realization of exactly how small and insignificant we are to the world while standing on the middle of a frozen lake with a hole in the ice, beer in one hand and a fishing line in the other. Realizing that we have it easy with our grocery stores at the end of the street, plowed roads and warm loved ones at home. Or it is about gazing up at the stars at night realizing that there are a lot of mysteries in the Universe and that the Universe is huge. In a Universe so huge there has got to be problems and chances are 99% of those are more important than yours; so life is not half bad.
It is also about leaving. Each year, after we clean up and lock up, we meet at a restaurant nearby to have breakfast, coffee and a few last laughs before heading back to our daily lives. It acts as a sort of buffer between the world of the fish camp and the real world. It is a time when we can reflect on some of the great things that occured over the last 36 hours or so that will surely become stories to tell and reflect upon for years to come. Then, we say our thank yous and good-byes, get into our vehicles and drive back home to our loved ones with memories in the bag, all of them keepers not a single one thrown back.
Animoto.com offers to create a free 30 second slide show movie that has a great, professional look. I decided to give it a try with some of the photos from last year’s trip. Clearly, a longer show is necessary but this is a good teaser for those of us rigging up to go again this year in 2 week’s time. I hope you enjoy.
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