Valier can be rather quiet during December and January when tourists stay home, and school is closed for winter break. Most of the noisiest of birds have migrated south, except for a curious flock of Canadian geese that continue to hang around Lake Frances. Even frequent high winds fade into background noise as one becomes accustomed to them. It’s quiet, until the ice talks.
The sound of Lake Frances’ ice can be unnoticed amid the howling winds and the noisy geese. It can be mistaken for a truck shifting gears on the highway, an airplane passing overhead, a clap of thunder, or even the low howl of frequent wind. Lend an ear on a calm crisp day and you can hear the groaning of ice as it grows and shifts. It can be described as a low moan or the sound of a Peanuts Comic adult in the distance – a kind of slow “waaa-waaa” sound.
What causes this noise?
Of course, something as large as a five mile by one mile expanse of ice will make a sound if it moves, but what causes the movement?
As water forms into ice, it expands and moves. The moaning and groaning, and sometimes pinging, sounds coming from the lake are indications that ice is forming. Even cracking ice, when conditions are cold enough, indicates a thicker layer forming above the water.
This is good news for the avid fishermen braving harsh conditions in pursuit of a fresh catch, or adventurous skaters and sledders. More ice means safer ice.
Reports have been given of the ice moving, or shivering, beneath one’s feet, another indication of thickening ice – if it is cold! This reporter will be happy to miss out on the feeling of shifting ice. However, the talking ice is an experience that can be enjoyed from shore. If you are looking for a unique experience, take a drive to Lake Frances on a calm but cold day and spend a few minutes listening to what the ice is telling you.
*As a precaution, do not mistake melting ice for growing ice and always check conditions locally before venturing onto a frozen lake.