I love being in incredibly beautiful places where it feels like I’m the only one present. This past weekend I found out that Acadia National Park in the winter more than satisfies this desire. The town of Bar Harbor itself feels post-apocalyptic. Shops and motels are boarded up; the handful of businesses that are open put out flags with snowflakes on them as a beacon to draw in the few, lone survivors wandering the barren streets in a daze. The main road through the park is only open for two short stretches, but you can still park at a few of my favorite spots (Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond) and explore those areas by ski or snowshoe without seeing anyone for hours. One of the few signs of life are the ice-fishing huts. I was surprised when I first drove up and saw these bright-colored little buildings dotting Eagle Lake. It just hadn’t occurred to me that there would be evidence of man on the frozen bodies of water! I was thrilled, of course, because they add a unique visual
element to the landscape. I can certainly understand why Scott Peterman is enthralled by them. There is something magical and captivating about these tiny houses and what goes on inside them. I picture weather-beaten old Mainers sitting alone for hours huddled next to the tiny stove, drinking beer (or something more chest warming) and waiting patiently for their dinner to emerge from the depths below. It just seems so Maine…the cold, the waiting, all the hardship for such a small reward. I get the feeling though that part of the allure is not the end result, but the process. After all, I sort of like the idea of sitting in the middle of a frozen lake alone in a toasty little hut. There are places in the state you can rent ice-fishing huts, so I’ll have to try it some time and let you know if it really is fun! In any case, it probably was more fun to be inside them than outside them the two times I was photographing them. The first time the winds were gusting up to 45 m.p.h. and I could barely walk in a straight line, much less hold my camera steady. You can’t tell from the photos, but these were taken during these insanely strong winds—the type that viciously slams the car door on your leg when you’re scurrying back to shelter. But, naturally, this wasn’t enough punishment. I had a vision. I wanted a photo of one of these shacks while it was snowing. And lo and behold, as we headed out of town the next afternoon flakes were steadily falling from the sky and we made a little detour, after a blissfully deserted walk on a snow-laden carriage trail, so I could get my shot. But, wait….as we approach the lake I see something is amiss. The bright blue shack of my vision is gone! That was the one I wanted to shoot in the snow and it had evaporated overnight, removed by a little ice-fishing gnome no doubt. Harumph. So I settled for this one instead. Now, you might ask: Why is it so far away? Well, the answer is simple. I’m a wimp. The wind was howling, the snow blowing and I had seen pockets of open water on that ice just the day before so I wasn’t about to venture closer, despite the fact that snowmobiles were traversing the area with apparently no worries! My hands were achingly cold after taking these shots though, so I think I suffered enough for my art without falling through the ice.