Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I told you I lived in the frozen North

shantytown

I took this picture this morning about 300 yards from my front door. The white stuff on the bottom half is a lake covered with snow and ice. The white stuff on the top half is the sky. The black dots in the middle are ice-fishing shanties. Like this:

proving the existence of both the shanties and colors beyond black and white

It's currently sturgeon-spearing season here (she says, revealing yet another clue to her supersecret location). I am weirdly and utterly fascinated by this. I know everything there is to know about it that you can learn by reading the newspaper (and not actually doing it in person, because hell no). First you have to cut a hole in the ice (no more than 48 square feet please), then place your ice shanty over it. Stock the shanty with a heater, a hot plate, and several thermoses of coffee. Position your spear so it's dangling into the water. Then: sit and stare at the hole. Wait for a fish to swim by. If it does, drop the spear and stab the sucker.

There are tons of rules about when and where and how you can spear these prehistoric-looking beasts, which can live 100 years and grow to 6 feet long and over 100 pounds. I'm not sure why I find this topic so endlessly entertaining (seriously: last year our paper published recipes for how to make your own caviar from the sturgeon's roe), except for maybe the fact that it's one of those vestiges of regionalism that are so hard to find. We all eat at the same chain restaurants, shop at the same stores, watch the same TV shows, use the same slang. But how many of us have ever speared a sturgeon? Or even just pushed our kids down to the end of the block in their strollers to see how the season's going?

you've been warned

(My West Coast sisters: "Registering" means taking your fish to a designated spot--usually a bar!--so it can be measured and counted. No oaths, anthems, or civics exams.)

12 comments:

Lady M said...

For the first half of your post, I was simply stunned by the whiteness of the view. Then I got distracted by wondering exactly how one registers one's fish. Is it like registering to vote - fishie address and date of birth required? ;)

Mona said...

Lady M stole my question! Do the fish have to prove their citizenship?

BlondeMom said...

Can you drink while sturgeon spearing? Because I think that is the ONLY way I could sit in a ice shanty. WOW. You do live in frozen tundra land.

TB said...

Nope, I've never cut holes in three feet thick ice then sat in subzero temperatures waiting for a fish to swim by. Perhaps I'm missing out on one of the finer experiences of life, but that along with skydiving will have to remain a mystery to me.

Chase said...

I walked outside today to see about 1/4 of an inch of snow on the ground. And I wailed to the sky at how unfair life is.

Now I guess I have something else to be thankful for. I can't BELIEVE that view! Ack!

Kate said...

Wow, you really live in the middle of nowhere.

Suzanne said...

Wow. This is indeed a regionalism I have never encountered nor am likely to. I also can't imagine having that view from my house!

mothergoosemouse said...

I'll second being fascinated by the regionalism; I think a lot of our fascination stems from how much our current areas differ from where we used to live.

No ice fishing around here though. Ditto Jamie - I'd have to have a flask or two.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

There are sturgeon at the High Desert Museum here, they are truly fascinating fish. My daughter always wants to see them before anything else. I will be sure not to tell her about sturgeon-speaking season : )

And wow what a view! No wonder you moved to Mayberry.

Magpie said...

That is indeed strangely fascinating.

mimi said...

That looks just like the place I used to live in WI. I grew up there and seeing people driving on the ice always amazed me. Inevitably, someone's truck would fall through the ice. Scary. Also, beer-drinking in the ice shanty is mandatory.

tallulah said...

Good Lord! I am freezing cold just looking at those pictures!