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ICE-pect Lake

It has brought back memories. In the small midwestern town in which this writer grew up, winter was defined by snow, at least to my childhood mind. That is to say, the snow started around Thanksgiving and continued intermittently until Easter. This, of course, is an over-simplification. Sometimes the start date was early enough to interfere with Halloween’s trick-or-treating, and the end date was definitely indefinite because Easter is a moveable feast. Nonetheless, winter then and there meant frequent snowfalls over several months.

This year here in the Berkshires, winter has followed that pattern. Snow has been with us for a goodly while. That has meant that Prospect Lake has been a sheet of ice for that while. Happily, it has been enjoyed accordingly.

Photos courtesy of Genis Melendez-Delaney and Joyce Frater

  • There have been ice fishers* galore – augers buzzing, pop-ups bobbing, an occasional warming shed or tent, catches held high in triumph. One morning there were at least a dozen people out on the lake tending fishing holes.

  • Interestingly enough, birds often show up when the fishing is done for the day. The birds -- sometimes rare eagles, sometimes just plain old crows – feast on what the fishers leave behind on the ice after they’ve cleaned their catches.

  • A trio of snowshoed hikers* went clomping by the other day. It looked like a father and a couple of kids, tramping along, leaving tennis-racket sized footprints.

  • Cross-country skiers* make an occasional appearance as well, slip-sliding to leave long, skinny tracks.

  • Skaters* show up now and again, first shoveling a clear space to enjoy. Sometimes with hockey sticks, sometimes just racing or twirling along.

Prospect Lake, frozen or otherwise, remains a source of all sorts of enjoyment and usefulness to all sorts of animals – four-legged and two.* Keeping the lake free of weeds is the mission of FOPL (the Friends of Prospect Lake.) During the frozen winter months, weeds are not an issue, so the Friends put this frozen time to good use by consulting with the professional limnologists they have hired to stay up to date on dealing with lake weeds, determine how best and realistically to manage them, and concrete plans for doing so once spring arrives and the ice melts.

Curiosity and questions about these efforts are always welcome from all sources, FOPL’s annual membership drive is another springtime event, and the group holds a public meeting in mid-July to discuss plans and elect officers. Interested parties and ideas are welcome any time. Contact Joyce Frater, FOPL’s current president, at 528-2198 or email us at

*NOTE – accessing the frozen surface of Prospect Lake is at the individual’s sole responsibility.

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