As predicted, the ice jam came unjammed sometime in the night or early morning. By the time I headed out after breakfast, masses of broken river ice were flowing down the river.When I was a kid growing up on the bank of the Assiniboine River, this flow of ice was a big event. Every spring as the weather warmed we placed twenty-five cent bets on which day the ice would “go out.” My grandfather generally won. This year the weather has been so erratic that I suspect even grandpa would have been hard pressed to call it.
Standing on the bank just south of the bridge, I watched the ice crash against the bridge supports that just yesterday were bracing the ice jam. Huge slabs of ice crumbled against the supports which, I noticed for the first time, are shaped much like ships’ prows, no doubt for exactly this purpose. Fallen trees, carried downriver with the ice, crashed and splintered like giant toothpicks.
As a kid, I always thought of the going out of the ice as a singular event. When I observe the river’s changes now, I see that everything about it is more complex than I once believed. The ice jams, and flows, and jams, and flows again, until eventually the last of it has melted. A lot of things that seem simple when you first look at them reveal themselves to be much more complex on closer examination.