The official beginning of spring for me is when the first Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breakers steam by my front yard. It’s quite spectacular to witness the thick layers of white ice making the transformation to blue water. Sometimes, right up until the day of the ice-breaking, it would seem a daunting task to have the river cleared before opening day of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s commercial activities. This year is the first time in memory that the Seaway opening was postponed until April, due to near record-breaking ice buildup. The arrival of the ice cutters sets off a chain of events that eventually leads to the full reawakening of spring and summer activities on the St. Lawrence River. Soon, the shipping industry will be back in full swing
The geese have already returned. Additionally a heron or two have been spotted here and there. Now that the river has begun to flow, there is an increase of other waterfowl, including hooded mergansers and golden eyes. Even bald eagles are a common site on the thinning ice at the water’s edge.
As I gaze upon the pristine blue water, I daydream of seeing fishing boats, cruise ships, and commercial freighters. Eventually, the gentle waters will be filled with people on kayaks, canoes, pontoons, jet skis and paddle boats. The air will be filled with sounds of laughter and friendly hoots and hollers from our neighbors. But today we celebrate another frigid winter coming to an end, the Canadian Coast Guard claiming the river back for the spring season, and the return of the shipping industry.