For an adventure and a thrill, ride the Charlotte-Essex ferry when the lake is frozen. Of course you cannot ride waves, because the lake is frozen over and even the weather bureau does not forecast wave heights.
Driving by the Charlotte Town Beach I noticed a little ice forming on the edge of Lake Champlain on this calm, cold January day. I wondered if the lake would freeze over this year. My mind wandered back to February 22, 1988, when the headlines of the Burlington Free Press screamed, “ICE FISHERMEN SAVED, 23 snatched by helicopter from drifting ice on lake.” I came home and pulled out from my files a story that I had written that summer based on an interview with Fred Wedge, an ice fisherman on that ice floe and an East Charlotte resident. I think his harrowing story is important to share, both as a warning and as an inspiration.
Some people say we’re due for a January thaw. As I write this, the temperature outside is -3 and the wind chill is -20. The night sky has finally opened up after a snowstorm blanketed the valley, and the stars are shimmering brightly. It’s the kind of cold that when you breathe in, the hairs inside your nose clang together like fragile glass tendrils daring to shatter. All around us people are hibernating in their dens, huddled against the woodstove or heater. But the hardiest of us are enjoying the arctic blast, knowing that the lake is “making ice.” If I were a betting man, I’d put money on the whole lake freezing over this year and lots of truck traffic in the bays.
On the morning of December 11, Charlotte Fire and Rescue received a call that a dog had fallen through the ice on Charlotte Pond, off Guinea Road. Fire and Rescue responded quickly because they were nearby dealing with a motor-vehicle accident on Spear Street.
Celeste Brasseur, 35, of Charlotte, suffered significant lacerations to her face after a projectile ice shard smashed her windshield,…