|THE WINE DARK SEA|
Tuesday, 9:15 AM. 13 degrees F at the ferry dock, 12 on the back porch. Wind WNW, mostly calm with occasional moderate gusts. The sky is overcast, the channel is foggy and it is snowing lightly. The forecast for the week ahead is for temperatures in the teens and twenties with a wintry mix of weather, and heavy snow next Monday. Several inches of ice with a dusting of snow made for a short and somewhat perilous walk this morning.
Homer's "Wine dark sea" might be a good description of the channel between Bayfield and Madeline Island now, except that the ice flows render it more comparable to a dark beer with a good head of foam (this is Wisconsin, after all).
When ice forms on the channels of the Apostle Islands in winter, or as it melts in spring, the winds and currents move the ice flows around, and when they stay in one position for a while they solidify, sometimes quite suddenly; or just as suddenly, break up and disappear. "Here today, gone tomorrow," can become "here one moment, gone the next."
I don't know all the details as yet, but that's evidently what happened to ten ice fisherman near Washburn yesterday, who floated off on breakaway ice and had to be rescued by the Ashland Fire Department's air boat, the "Ice Angel."
You may recall I said it was a little early to be out there. Being warm, dry and alive sure beats being cold, wet and dead.