Ice is out, spring comes early

Ice out of Sylvan Lake April 15, historian notes it is earliest recorded date in history

By Treena Mielke

News flashes are ongoing. They are here, there and everywhere.

The price of oil remains a slippery slope of uncertainty.

A police investigation is underway after a passenger plane approaching Heathrow Airport flew into what is believed to have been a drone.

Understandably, both those news flashes are cause for concern.

And so it goes.

News on a global scale is keeping print media, broadcast media and social media alive and well.

But here at home, in good old central Alberta, the land where wild roses go crazy in the spring, coloring roadside ditches with their shy pink blooms, there is also a news flash.

As of April 15, the ice went out in Sylvan Lake. And, according to records checked by historian Michael Dawe, it’s the earliest ever that has happened.

I believe that particular news flash, was like a pebble dropped into the lake before it gets interrupted with boat waves. It caused a ripple effect, as locals and lake visitors alike peered into the past trying to bring to recall their own memories of the lake, almost washed away by the sands of time.

I flip back over my own memories, trying to clamp down a time, a date, and a story to go with it, but I come to the sad realization, I don’t remember dates, only moments.

I remember one such moment.

I, an ill kept little kid with messy brown hair and bare feet, am perched in the front seat of an old ’49 Pontiac.

My dad is in the driver’s seat and our dog, a non-descript breed of nuisance, is in the back.

Suddenly without warning, there it is. A huge expanse of liquid blue, shimmering in the sunlight.

A few miles later, we were there.

Being at the lake seemed like a different world.

I remember the sun, warm on my hair, the hot, dry feel of sand between my toes and the creamy cool taste of ice cream, soft on my tongue.

I remember my dad saying the ice didn’t melt in Sylvan Lake. It only sank.

My dad was smart and knew about such things.

I didn’t question him, I simply believed him.

I still remember the painful splash of the icy water on my poor tummy as I tried, unsuccessfully, to execute a graceful dive off the wooden pier.

I believe the common term for that particular dive was and probably still is, a belly flop.

Fast forward about 15 years. Sitting in a ‘70 something red Volkswagen, my husband in the driver’s seat, three kids in the back. We crest a hill on Hwy. 11 and there it is, the same huge expanse of liquid blue, shimmering in the sunlight.

I remember ice cream and sticky fingers. Excited shrieks and laughter. Sand pails and castles. And me, always in the background, admonishing the kids gently and then not so gently when they became tiny specks in the water, “don’t go out too far. Stay where I can see you.”

They did, of course, go out too far. They grew up. And, always, they went out too far, to places far away and unknown to me.

But, always, thankfully they came back.

And so the summers came and the summers went.

Waterskiing and hamburgers. Sunscreen and sandscastles.

Footprints in the sand.

And as the ever-changing tides of time keep on, keeping on, I learn nothing is as permanent as change.

But still, some things never change.

Sitting on the beach and savoring the taste of ice cream will remain now and forever a delicious waste of time.

The hot, dry feel of sand between your toes remains endlessly cool.

Watching the way the sun splinters into a million shards of light when it is reflected off the water remains a timeless wonder.

And hearing the echo of a child’s laughter bouncing back over the waves is a lifetime guarantee that happiness can be contagious.

Does it get any better?

I don’t think so!