The Log on the Ice

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Log on Waughop Lake

So near Tacoma is a lake I used to walk around in high school, nearly every day. It’s a small kettle lake, with a tree-lined paved road that has seen nearly no car traffic in 60 years. It’s a great place to watch nature and the seasons change. Last winter, with a long spell of very steady, very cold weather, the lake froze over.

In Western Washington we’re not much accustomed to freezing the way people are in, say, the midwest, so we’re usually not ready for it and we’re endlessly fascinated with it when it does show up. On one particular day, I noticed that not only was the lake frozen, it was frozen deep, like Lake Baikal solid, like drive a car across it and go ice fishing solid. So teenagers were there playing a form of “chicken.”

One kid took a chunk of log and shuffled as far as she dared, laid the log on the ice, then shuffled back. Another girl went out and moved the log out even farther. Some boys came by, and being boys, had to go push it even farther out. I went out and lost my nerve about half way so I pretended I was just enjoying the view, which I was. The boys and girls were considerably lighter than I am, but all the same, it seemed safe. It was oddly grounding to be standing on thick ice over water. There was not a creak, crack or groan in the ice at all. Were we naive in our inexperience with ice?

There were enough people around who could make a human rescue chain (I read about this in my brother’s Boy Scouts manual) if someone’s luck ran out. Suddenly, on this long-untouched old road, there was a deep rumble. Around the corner came a full blown county fire department ladder truck, some 20 tons or so, rolling slowly around the entire perimeter of the lake. The fire department guys were no doubt scoping out where they could send out a ladder, or how close they could get to the edge of the lake without cracking the ice, in case the game of Log Chicken went sour. They didn’t say anything, just scoped out the venue if needed, cruising slowly around the little lake twice. ¬†They may have been summoned by a concerned citizen tired of grumping at kids to get off the ice. I have to admit it was nice to know that the fire department was checking things out in our rare weather situation.

This story really has no point, except perhaps modest risks are fun and it’s also nice when the big boys show up to the rescue even when not needed.

About Leslie Strom

Stand out. Be bold. Prove you exist. I try to do this in web design, writing, publishing, and with my frequently bad ideas. Since I spend about 85% of my time collecting information and am willing to set myself out as a human cautionary tale, I think you might enjoy the enlightening (or not) tinkertoy workings of my mind. Welcome!
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2 Responses to The Log on the Ice

  1. Dave Sacher says:

    Pointless or not, this is a good story, and very enjoyable to read. I’ve always enjoyed your perspective on life and its many foibles!

  2. Leslie Strom says:

    Thanks, Dave! Nice to hear from you! I was tossed between a couple points, one being that when old people, cautious from age, yell at you to get off the ice, their view of unsafe conditions might be uninformed and heeding them might ruin a great opportunity for adventure. The other point might be that it would have been ironic if the fire truck had cracked the ice by just rolling by on the road. It was a huge thing.

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