SCORES & OUTDOORS: Life seems to have slowed down

Ice free Webber Pond.

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

Well, here we are. All stuck in the same place. I realize the severity of the COVID-19 coronavirus that has now taken a strangle hold on all of our normal every day lives.

But, after speaking with several other people, with the media blitz we are getting from the news, it is becoming a little much. I understand that it is suggested that we all stay in our homes, until this passes, so as to not spread the virus any more than is occurring.

Last weekend, I spent many hours in my garage, at home, while processing the maple sap I gathered during the previous week. That is always a promising time of year. The gathering of maple sap, and converting it to that sweet, homemade maple syrup, usually, in my mind anyway, marks the end of winter. At least it’s within sight. I even took the time to clean my car from the winter grime and clutter that accumulates inside the car, by what seems like mysterious ways. Where did all those receipts and cough drop wrappers come from?

The day was Saturday, and it was quite a pleasant day, save for the cold wind that would gust up from time to time. One thing I did notice was that my neighborhood, which is located in the middle of the city of Waterville, was quieter than normal. Far less vehicular traffic than in the past. No buses nor children walking home from their daily schooling. Not a sniff of diesel fuel in the air.

Oblivious of the coronavirus outbreak were the numerous birds that visited our feeders which hang from our side porch. In and out, all day long, going about their normal routine.

Squirrels scurrying about, from tree to tree, down the driveway and across the street. A never-ending process of survival. I did notice, however, that winter, and even the spring’s strong winds, had dislodged a nest from high in one of my pine trees. Do squirrels begin to build new nests, or do they bunk in together in someone else’s crib?

On Sunday, a beautiful day of sunshine without a cloud in the sky, my wife and I decided to take a Sunday drive. Something we had not done in quite some time because there was always something else to do. With our church suspending all Sunday Masses for the foreseeable future, we took advantage of the extra time to get out of the house. After all, we would be in our car, and have no physical contact with any other human beings.

We decided to do the circular drive through the towns around China Lake. Rumors had it that ice was out.

We proceeded out of Winslow and toward China on Rte. 137/202. As we approached the head of the lake, it was, “nope, ice is not out yet.” Let’s go take a look at Three Mile Pond and Togus Pond. “Eureka, ice out at both locations.” There is hope after all.

The last destination would be our lake, where we spend the summers, Webber Pond. Sure enough, ice is out on Webber Pond, except for a small portion in the east cove. Historically, that will disappear quickly as winds shift the ice.

After arriving home, we sat and discussed our little excursion of the day.

It reminded us of the “good ol’ days.” Being able to go for a Sunday drive without the problems of heavy traffic. Hardly anyone on the roads.

It almost seems like since the outbreak of this virus, life has actually slowed down.

It is interesting, though, to observe Mother Nature, at its finest, continue at its own pace, with all the wildlife going about their own routine.

The bears are awakening from their winter slumber, as are skunks, raccoons, and something I saw in the road on Sunday that I was not able to identify while driving back to Waterville along Rte. 201. Soon, we should begin to see opposum, woodchucks and other species that go into partial hibernation during the winter months.

Spring is all around us, and we anxiously await the warmer days and the time when this virus has become history and part of our memories.

Stay safe. Think about the coming of warmer weather, and the emminent all out war against black flies and ticks.


Ice out has been recorded on China Lake since 1874. In the 132 years between 1874 and 2005, ice went out in March on only four occasions – 1901, 1902, 1953, and 1981. In the 14 years since, March ice out has also occurred four times, 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2016. Should ice go out before next Wednesday, it will mark the fifth time in 15 years.

You could make a good case for climate change.

Roland’s trivia question of the week:

How did former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra get his first name?

Answer can be found here.


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