It happens every year, although maybe not to this degree, but when it has been a long cold winter, the ice can get really thick on Lake Superior, and when it begins to thaw, ice can make its way onto the shoreline because of the movement of the deep water. I saw a video a few days ago that showed Lake Superior thawing and the ice shards coming ashore. They weren’t thick, because this Winter, while bad enough back there, was not as bad as the one we had in 1958, when I was almost two years old. That year, the ice was so thick, that it came ashore as very large ice slabs. When the ice comes into the shore on Lake Superior, it can overflow onto streets and yards near the shore.
I can’t say that I recall the time we spent on the ice slabs that year, but apparently the ice slabs, shards, or just ice in general are things that the people along Lake Superior celebrate. I suppose when Winter is a longer lasting season, finding a way to have fun in it is essential. Enter the Ice Festival. From what I can see, and I hope some of my Duluth/Superior family members will fill me in, there are a number of events. On the website, I saw ice sculptures, ice princesses, bon fires and s’mores, warming houses with hot drinks to warm up with, food, fireworks, children’s story time, and crafts, so there is truly something for everyone, and it’s all about having fun.
I don’t know if we were at an Ice Festival when my parents took us out to see the ice slabs on Lake Superior’s shores, but in looking at the pictures, I must say that they were definitely impressive. I know that the ice festival is not as much about the ice slabs around the lake, but rather about the fact that, at this point, most people are really over Winter by now. Finding fun things to do that are associated with ice, as well as the coming Spring, is a way to lift everyone’s spirits. I can tell from the pictures my parents took at the time, that they and we were impressed with ice slabs that had come on shore that year. I think anyone would have been impressed, because they were huge that year. Some of them were half my height, not that I was tall, but that really is pretty thick. I’m sure it was somewhat cold out there, and back then, little girls wore dresses a lot of the time, but my sister, Cheryl Masterson, and I did not seem to mind the cold. I guess it was the wonder of it all. Maybe that is why they have an Ice Festival..so people can embrace the ice…so to speak.
When I think of glaciers and icebergs, I often think of the Titanic. Sailing into an area that is filled with floating ice has a tendency to take your mind down that road. Of course, the icebergs we saw were not of the size that the Titanic hit, at least not the ones we got very near to. We were also traveling quite slowly, and in daylight, making it easier to see if there is a dangerous piece of ice that we need to maneuver around. Nevertheless, in the back of my mind, lived a little picture of Titanic sinking beneath the water. It wasn’t that I was afraid, because I wasn’t, but rather a matter of being able to relate to the situation the Titanic was in, and knowing that no one was doing anything about it, when it was the Titanic heading into a death trap. I was thankful that so much more is known today about the damage that icebergs can cause, because it makes it possible for us to get close to these amazing natural ice sculptures, to view their amazing beauty, and yet, still remain safe.
As we sailed closer and closer to the Margerie Glacier, in Glacier Bay, I found myself completely in awe of the beauty God had created from ice. No human could have created something so grand. As we came closer and closer, I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I wanted to get every possible angle of the glacier. I wanted to forever fix it in my memory files. I wanted to be able to picture it in my mind…and I can. I think I will always be able to see the stunning blue color and the amazing crevasses. There is never enough time to see it for as long as you would like to, and all too soon, we had to move on. In all, we saw close up views of three glaciers, and distant views of countless others. The ice filled water began to disappear, and we couldn’t see the icebergs anymore. I found that I was feeling a little bit sad that our time at the glaciers was over. It felt like we had only just arrived, and now we were leaving.
Of course, I’ve seen glaciers before, but I simply don’t remember them being as beautiful as the ones we saw in Alaska. The colors were so stunning. It was almost like the blues were painted onto the ice. The Margerie Glacier is 21 miles long, beginning on Mount Root, at the Alaska/Canada border, and it is a mile wide. The sheer size of the glacier is amazing to me. And, of course, the other glaciers in Alaska are of similar size. The colors are that amazing blue that you see in the ocean waves. I loved looking at the glaciers and icebergs. It seemed so peaceful there, and yet in reality, they are constantly changing…they are a work in progress. Each day, chunks fall off, and they add snow often, so the beauty changes and changes. But one thing is for sure, no matter how they change, they never lose that beauty. And that is the memory that will live on in my memory files.