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Spring is finally here…a list by Dick Withington

After a winter of continuous cold and snow, another weekend visit of the Polar Vortex seemed routine. The Vernal Equinox came and went, Daylight Saving Time returned, but the vision of "Spring dancing over the Hill" looked more like a snowman in a survival suit and galoshes. The disguise is hard to penetrate, but here are a few clues that spring may be coming.


  1. April 1st was the first day outside without a full suit of LongJohns.
  2. Walking outside is no longer accompanied by the crunch of snow and ice that fell in December.
  3. Migratory birds are returning from the south, and the Arctic species are preparing to head north for the summer.
  4. A walk in the woods is no longer punctuated by the shot-gun-like sound of a tree splitting when its sap has frozen.
  5. The faucets are now turned off at night. In the winter, they drip continuously to help prevent the pipes from freezing. Fortunately, the snowpack was deep enough this year to insulate the crawl space under the cottage and keep the wind out.
  6. To transport our drinking water from shore on the airboat or a sled, we usually fill the jugs 4/5 full and let them freeze overnight. This prevents spillage in transit.  That process if now over.
  7. It is no longer necessary to remember to tip the sled up on its side so that the runners don't freeze down to the ground.
  8. The sun now sets over Calumet Island on its journey back north for the summer.
  9. The "nylons in the shower" are gone. In the cold weather, you have to dry the dock lines or they will freeze and be useless. You just have two sets and rotate them from the boat to the drying hooks.
  10. Likewise with the outer clothing. Hooks in the living room ceiling are filled in the winter with coats and gloves thawing by the heat of the wood stove.
  11. Orion seems to show up later in the sky.
  12. The cats have "spring fever.”
  13. Tug, our new dog, can go outside without his insulated coat with the fir collar. (Tug says, " What would the sled dogs, Stormy and Ella say if they could see me wearing this?)
  14. Tonight was the pay-off. The spring peepers were belting out a chorus in Baxter's pond. That cinches it. Spring is finally here.

I must hurry home and write to Susie Smith that it's now official. REJOICE! We made it.


P.S.  My son DeWitt, is a Seaway Pilot. He was aboard a "saltie", and was coming into the River from Lake Ontario and shared his view in photographs.   By the way, the Canadian Coast Guard ship, Griffon, has been busy helping ships to pass through the ice (April 12-13). Last week's wind blew into the eastern end of the lake and with it came a river of ice.

Richard L. Withington, Round Island

Dr. Richard (Dick) L.  Withington is a retired Orthopedic Surgeon, living out a childhood dream, spending his fifth consecutive winter alone at the head of Round  Island. In October and Dick moves into the former servants' quarters, "Wintercroft".     Dr. Withington has an airboat which he keeps at  his own dock in winter ready to help. The Sheriff's office will call him directly if and when there is a problem.

Dick’s first article for TI Life, A Winter Islander, was published in January 2009.  To see all of Dick’s island experiences search TI Life under Richard L. Withington.  Kim Lunman, writer and publisher of Island Life, a print magazine, presented his profile in TI Life entitled The Doctor is in, February 2012.

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Comment by: JAN ARNO ( )
Left at: 1:59 PM Monday, April 28, 2014
Oh-I so enjoy your articles about the River.It sure was a harsh one this year and was pleased to hear you made it thru another winter!