With spring just weeks away, it’s hard to believe, but I think we still might have some more snow and cold temperatures ahead here nestled in the Berkshire Mountains. Shhh. don’t tell my husband, who is tired of shoveling, but I’m enjoying it here at the lake in the winter!

I thought winter at Highland Lake would be a bit quiet, but it hasn’t been. First of all, there’s the sound of the wind. It’s windy here, isn’t it? And I’ve noticed that Winsted/Winchester seems to have its weather system. It can be raining in Torrington, but it’s snowing here.

As soon as the lake froze over, we noticed dozens and dozens of folks scrambling out onto the ice at all hours of the day to set up their colorful bright blue and red ice shelters and start fishing.

These hearty souls gather together in circles to keep warm. The sound of gas-powered augers cutting through the ice often echoes across the bays. And these ice fishing folks even seem quite cheerful despite the sub-zero temperatures and the icy winds. They park their trucks in a line on the side of the road. Armed with coolers and all sorts of gear, they scamper bravely up and down the icy, steep paths around the lake.

My friend Beth Peterson, who is a certified fishing instructor and the first female president of the Naugatuck Pomperaug Chapter of Trout Unlimited, has even offered to come to visit me sometime to teach me how to ice fish here as well as how to fish when it’s not cold in the spring.

I may take Beth up on her offer, but I think the only way I would go out on the ice and fish for more than half an hour would be if I had a large hip flask filled with a very potent alcoholic beverage.

I’ve even seen people taking their dogs for long walks across the frozen lake. The dogs don’t seem to mind the cold at all.

One Saturday afternoon, my son Aaron and I spotted a dad with a small ATV carefully towing a sled with his kids on it across the ice. And, during the many, many snowstorms we’ve gotten so far, the silence at the lake is often punctuated by the loud whine of snowmobiles. Aaron and I sometimes stop for a few minutes to watch the drivers and their passengers racing each other up and down the entire length of the lake and doing dramatic donuts. That looks like fun!

We’ve also spotted a bald eagle or two as we’ve taken our daily walks in the frigid cold, usually right as the sun is starting to set. What a sight they are to see! Every single time I’ve spotted one, I’ve been too stunned to even get a photo fast enough with my phone. There are tracks of all sorts of animals of different sizes dotted across the snow-covered lake too, but we haven’t seen any of these animals yet during our walks.  

We have also seen a few young people ice skating on the lake here too. I saw one family that had cleared a large square of snow off the ice to play a spirited game of hockey together.

Seeing the skaters reminds me of my childhood growing up across the street from Hamilton Park in Waterbury. Each winter, the Park Department would flood the large baseball fields and put the ball field lights on when it got dark so you could skate at night. They sold hot chocolate in paper cups and you could sit on the player’s benches and drink it to warm up a bit. Back then, I could skate for hours and hours in the cold, gliding all around the frozen ball fields, pretending I was Dorothy Hamill. They would even play music over the loudspeakers. On the weekends, there were so many skaters on the ice that you could barely find a spot to skate. It was more like slalom skating as you tried to avoid other skaters.

And just down the road from the ball fields was a smaller indoor skating rink at the park. There was a charge for each session to use the indoor rink or you could pay for the day. It had a fireplace in the center of the building where you could put your skates up on the benches to warm your feet and you could buy all kinds of food there like hotdogs and french fries.

My parents would buy my brother and I brand new ice skates every few years for Christmas. I can still remember seeing the lovely white skates wrapped up in a tissue paper-filled box on Christmas morning. I had double-bladed skates until I got steady enough to try grown-up single-blade skates.

Maybe I need to buy a new pair of skates for next winter and try ice skating again? But then again, at my age, I don’t want to fall and break a hip. I guess snowshoes might be a safer thing to try? Ok. Now I guess I can finally go visit that store with the funny name in the center of town…what actually IS a Morsel Munk?

Jeannette Brodeur has been a journalist for more than 30 years and wrote a human interest column for the New Jersey Herald, the Naugatuck Daily News and the Citizen’s News for many years. She and her husband Todd have three adult children: Harley, Aaron and Jillian, as well as an aging rescue dog named Nelson and two rescue cats named Reeses (like the candy) and Clarence (like the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). They live on Highland Lake in Winchester/Winsted.