Spring Turnover


Yesterday, as I was out walking with a friend, I heard ice crystals for the first time. With a little wind, the 5” melting slabs moving against one another will tinkle like wind chimes as they pile against each other in up-thrust layers.   Here’s a 30 second clip from a recording I made.


Some people call this pencil ice because of its sharp edges when viewed from above. When I bent down and picked one up from the crowd, it was a flat plate; a thinner, glassier version of slate. After listening to the sound I came home to read more about what I had just seen.

Here’s what I learned:
The time of year you can hear ice crystals coincides with a phenomenon called “spring turnover.” As ice melts, water at the surface of a lake or pond becomes 39°, the temperature at which water is most dense. This heavier water falls to the bottom and stirs everything up, like an aquatic spring-cleaning.

Nature creates the spring turnover for a larger purpose. The oxygen pushed down in the cold water energizes fish and frogs, larvae and other living critters that bedded down in the mud for the winter.  In turn, as they rise to the surface they bring with them nutrients, which feed algae and other plant life; a small miracle right beneath the surface.






What miracles are waiting for you beneath the surface of your consciousness?

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13 Responses to Spring Turnover

  1. :Michael Boe says:

    Fascinating how nature operates! Hope you are feeling better. Mike

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      Thanks Mike. I am! And what a treat to be outside in Vermont on a sunny day. I hope you’re enjoying the same wherever you are.

  2. Hi Eileen, “yesterday” reminds me of Rubio’s speech, yesterday, entitled “yesterday”… gorgeous photos… I will write you on this blog later on… feel better…

  3. Ellicott McConnell says:

    We had one of our first beautiful spring days yesterday, and it brought to mind the first sounds of spring when I was a child at Watch Hill…….the cheerful chorus of “spring peepers” from a small marsh close to our home.

  4. Hi EIleen, The lovely chiming sound of the ice breaking up gives me thoughts of other, somewhat,
    musical sounds nature creates, spontaneously and without technology at hand, such as the whirling gusts of wind, the leaves of a tree blowing against other leaves, hail and heavy rains, crashing waves and the like–mesmerizing.
    ON MY WALK, yesterday and Sunday afternoon, I met and saw several of the other regular neighborhood walkers: Eleanor, Lena, Sue, Heather, Cathy, Mark, Louisa, Jody and Dr. G. All were smiling, must be spring, I thought! Short and long stops to say “hi” provoked long and short chats,
    again. Winter had “deprived” me of these pleasant stops along the walk because I walked indoors
    most of the time. The park was coming alive with kids in the playground, on the baseball courts, tennis courts and walking path. Thank you for saying “Good Bye” to winter’s ice beauty…

    • eileenrockefeller says:

      I”m so glad I could share it with you and my other readers. I actually drove my horses down to the lake to get the video! It was very windy but that’s what stirred up the sound. Yay for walks!

  5. Cybele Gontar says:


  6. Richard Trenner says:

    We all have great depths in us—memories upon memories, ideas (some good, some not so good), dreams, etc. For example, I’m amazed (right word) that my brain can produce, script, cast, shoot, and show entire movies as I sleep—movies complete with intricate plots, lots of actors, and—Lord knows—”special effects” far more special than Hollywood will ever dream up.

    If our brains can produce dreams, our brains can also produce so much else that is creative and interesting—and valuable. Consciousness is like the thin spring ice in Vermont you nicely describe: delicate and beautiful. And the unconscious is all that lies beneath—hundreds of times “thicker” or deeper. It’s there waiting for us to dive in.

    Speaking of “diving in” (a free association), I remember one April day many years ago when I was at school in New Hampshire. It was “the day the ice went out” and, on a dare, I dived into the frigid lake and swam to the float about 75 yards out. (Or was it 25 and felt like 75?) I clocked my best time ever—before or since. (The worse part was swimming back. Everything carries a cost.)

    I’m proud that, every summer in Maine, I still swim in Penobscot Bay while a lot of other people gaze at the water from shore. My kids say I tolerate cold water because I’m well-insulated! I say it’s because I learned a long time ago (in cold-water places like Sweden and New England) that you can stand around forever debating whether to dive in or not. Or you can take the plunge. The plunge will almost always make the better story than the debate will.

    • I like your philosophy of “dive right in.” And if you have done it in New Hampshire after the ice melted, and in Penobscot Bay, you are made of hardy stock! And yes, I too am amazed at how our brains can track, sequence, and invent so continuously. No wonder we need to give them a periodic rest!

  7. Timothy Clarke says:

    Hi Eileen, hope your feeling better too…!!!:) Drink lots of liquids, goods food and vitamins and lots of sleep, expect, keep a dry lung, salt pools if possible….steam…dry home air… and ok I’ll stop…and all the other age-old stuff…:). but yes, get better. I always found the last stretch to summer the one that was more likely to catch me. Maybe it is that the winter is dryer and in Spring you get that humidity mixed with the cold that’s still there.

    But those rays are peaking through more now.

    Thanks for the ice thoughts. I could imagine it. It reminded me of being a kid in Aylmer, Quebec, Ice Fishing on Lake Duschenes. It was only a couple of years after my family coming to North America from warm Australia and I remember my cursing the weather even at 11 years old. And I remember the WIND out on the lake…my goodness….but the energy from the bright, almost snow-blinding SUN, also was wonderful!!! I pictured it when I read your piece… and seeing the glistening sun off of the ice in your pic….the wind out there on the lake.

    My friend and I were on his parent’s old yellow Yamaha snowmobile, that he was driving and I was the passenger and we had gone out to an Ice Fishing Derby on Lake Duschenes, which is quite a large Lake. We had paid to enter the Derby and for a hole to be drilled from some adults. They had a power Ogger and the ice was feet deep as I remember.

    Then the guys went back inside their warmed portable hut… and we huddled together out on the ice…watching our flag, waving in the wind, on our home-made fishing rig. Waiting for the flag to pop up…..waiting for a bite…I don’t remember if we caught anything, probably not, but that never mattered anyway with fishing ever with me. Fishing for me has always been more about the water, air and environment than catching fish.

    I tell my kids not to dare extreme environments and to always dress accordingly. Then with good coverings, we as Humans always seem to find the “Happy”, practically almost anywhere on this spinning rock.

    Be well and thanks for the Ice story. I could honestly feel the cold and imagine the wind off the Lake, so thanks. It took me to a different place from here for a few moments. A mini ice-fishing vacation…

  8. eileenrockefeller says:

    How nice that this story evoked such fond memories of ice fishing Timothy. Did you listen to the video too, so you could hear the ice tinkling? It’s such a beautiful sound, and so ephemeral.

    • Timothy Clarke says:

      Yes, that was very nice… I avoided listening to it at first. Imagining that minus 20/30-ish crisp sound, when your nostrils freeze as you breathe in…like nails on a board for me, when you walk on that super cold snow that squeaks….so I avoided listening to it and went off your writing and the picture with the glistening sun.

      But this was different. Definatley, as you said ephemeral and deeper tones than I expected, mixed in with the higher ones and that so naturally rhythmic, yet “pure non-repeating”, an irrationally non-terminating, mathematical pattern of sorts and the sound of the waves and the wind transferred into the breaking ice, which is a bit water-logged in bits, so there are almost bamboo-ish low tones and mid tones in there too…

      Haha, that is funny though! A lesson of not assuming that something will be like nails on a chalk board, when it ends up being like a beautiful, earthy and ethereal combination of Chinese/Japanese metal, ceramic, glass and bamboo chimes…..:)

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