[B]y winter’s end (even in a weirdly warm year like this one), we Mainers have gotten pretty good at making our own fun. And what better way to entertain ourselves (and salute the spring) than with a friendly wager on when the ice will disappear on the nearest lake? In Wilton, you can make $100 predicting the first day a boat can get from the town launch to Wilson Lake’s main island without hitting ice. A similar pool for Camden’s Megunticook Lake might land you a gift certificate for outdoor gear and a year’s subscription to the local paper. In Jackman, the Cozy Cove Cabins usually offer half off a night’s stay to whoever calls Big Wood Lake’s ice out date.
Here (top), on Bridgton’s Moose Pond — with the ski runs of Shawnee Peak looming behind — the official mascot of ice out is a snowman named “IC,” whose ingenious designers mounted him on a flotation platform next to an attached weight. In years past, a cool $500 went to the wintry prophet who guessed the date when the weight would drop to the lake bottom, thereby yanking away a board to reveal the word “OUT” (ties were decided by a raffle). Sadly, the snowman went into hibernation this winter while the Bridgton Community Center retooled its contest. Here’s to seeing IC back on the ice next year!