February 14th. Wikipedia defines this day as Valentines Day, the annual holiday celebrating love and affection between intimate companions. On Sunday the 14th, this is exactly what a group of us did…but we did it Chewonki style. What is Chewonki style Valentines Day? Well I’m glad you asked. After a brunch of eggs, fruit and mixed berry muffins, which a group of us woke up early to prepare for the community, Lynne, one of the teachers here at Chewonki, stood up to announce that she and her husband and son would like to invite anyone who was interested to spend Valentines Day down on the river with them ice fishing. A group of nine or ten of us eagerly signed up and after finishing dish crew and making sure that we had plenty of hot chocolate for the day, we piled into the van. Ten minutes later we were pulling our sled full of food and equipment out onto the river.
We worked together to set up traps and took turns hammering through the foot of solid ice. One of the trickier parts of making the holes was trying to scoop the chunks of ice out of the water with our ice ladle before it froze again. After the second or third hole, we had it down and we flew through the rest, thoroughly enjoying watching each other hack through the ice, which seemed to have a mind of its own.
As we waited to see if any fish would come to our traps we played baseball on the ice. Our ball was made out of duct tape and our bases were stray articles of clothing, but that didn’t make anyone less excited to play. We broke up into teams and began to play. Home runs, although hard to hit, were fairly easy to get because as soon as the ball was hit far enough, it was difficult to move quickly over the frozen ice. I have never really been someone who likes to slide in baseball, and the thought of diving at a base had never really appealed to me, however with a sheet of ice to run on and balls moving quickly towards me I soon found that sliding was not necessarily a choice in our version of baseball.
After baseball we broke up into smaller groups. Some of us went on a walk down the river, exploring the different little coves and sliding on the patches of slippery ice, while others stayed by the traps and watched for any signs of fish. On the way back from the walk that some of us took we saw everyone crowded around one of the holes and realized that we must have caught our first fish. As soon as we realized our traps had worked we started running, as fast as the ice would permit, back to check out the fish. It was small but you would never have known with the level of excitement that everyone showed when we saw it. As we all crowded around the fish and listened to Lynne describe what kind of fish we had caught, I realized what a perfect end to the day it was. Callum later said how cool it was that a teacher would enthusiastically invite students to come ice fishing with her and her family. I completely agree and I think I can safely say that the chances of this happening at my school back home are next to zero. Watching a football game from crowded bleachers or standing in a packed gym at a school dance just doesn’t give you the same feeling of enthusiasm and adventure that an experience like this does.
-Jessica Nichols, Lincoln, MA