Blanket of snow
This is what the lighthouse looks like after a snowstorm. Last night, I measured 9 inches of snow outside the front door. The snow started yesterday morning. Yesterday afternoon, sitting by the coalstove in the parlor for warmth, I looked out the window and watched the river absorb the snowfall. The snow congealed into a thick layer at the surface like a floating white blanket. The slushy snow-water mix behaves like fabric, folding and wrinkling when compressed by wind or river current. I observed this “snow-water” phenomenon during my first winter at the lighthouse (see December 9, 2005 “What is it?” in the archives) but had no idea how viscous it was until yesterday when I saw a small boat get stuck in the south cove near the jetty. I watched as a duck-hunter in a flat-bottom boat struggled to free himself from the thick slush. He used a long pole to push out of the shallows but came to a standstill when he reached deeper waters. I put on my boots and jacket, grabbed a paddle from the boat shed, and launched my kayak. The narrow kayak sliced through the blanket of snow-water. When I reached the duck-hunter, I used the blade of my paddle to cut up and scoop the snow around his boat while he tried to push forward with his pole. Even as we worked to free the boat, the snow-slush thickened around us. Like the wind builds a snowdrift along a fence line, the flow of the incoming tide pushed more snow into the cove which piled against the jetty and surrounded us even more. I began to wonder if I’d end up stuck in the snow as well, but eventually we broke free of its hold. The duck-hunter rocked his boat from side to side to loosen up the snow sticking to the bottom. Using a line from his bow, I towed him into open water, which required a lot of hard paddle strokes. Liberated from the smothering snow-blanket and glad for an excuse to kayak around in a snowstorm, I paddled a loop into the creek before returning to the lighthouse.