The Thawing of Bayer Lake

by Darcy Spidle

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1.
thaw 22:44
2.
under ice 05:48

about

The Musquodoboit Trailway on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore is a 41km wilderness loop that runs along the Musquodoboit River and over stunning granite ridges. During the winter of 2020-21, I started hiking there a few mornings a week. Cold days were best because I often saw no one. The solitude allowed me to meditate on the forest. I became enamoured by the trees and the cliffs and the way that ice hung from the landscape like jewels.

My turning around point on the trail was usually 2.5 kilometres in, at the bottom of Bayer Lake. Before the lake froze in January, I would yodel across the water most mornings. It became a kind of ritual—walk the length of the lake, yodel, head back out. But when the water turned to ice, I stopped singing and started listening. Each day the lake sounded different. Creaks, cracks, booms, blasts, shattering, silence, wind noise++. After weeks of listening, I began to notice how the weather and temperature affected the sonic qualities of the ice; I even started to roughly predict what sounds I would hear when I got down to the lake on any given day. I was tuned in.

The morning of March 8th promised a rapid rise in temperature and light wind. I knew the sounds would be dynamic. So I packed a small rig of recording gear and hiked it onto the lake as the sun began to warm the trailway. I punched a hole in the lake and sunk a mono hydrophone. And I set two omnidirectional lavalier microphones on a stereo bar for recording above the ice.

During those couple of hours on the lake, the ice sang as I’ve never heard before, and there was a breeze humming about the trees that elevated the whole affair. All in all, it was one of the more profound Deep Listening encounters that I’ve had in a long while. The bodily sensation of sound coming from below and all around me created a strange disembodied experience, and the poetry of ice melting to make way for spring filled me with a much needed feeling of optimism.

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With this album, I present two excerpts from my session—one track from the stereo microphones and one from the frozen hydrophone. I recommend decent speakers or headphones for playback.

The Thawing of Bayer Lake is free to download, but if you have the means and desire to pay, I’ll donate half of your offering to the Nova Scotia Nature Trust, a provincial organization that protects wilderness areas in my region. Your support is much appreciated.

Also, special thanks go to the Musquodoboit Trailway Association and all other public wilderness organizations.

credits

released March 11, 2021

Recorded in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People.

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chik white Nova Scotia

Darcy Spidle has long used the moniker chik white for various art projects. His latest efforts centre around the jaw harp, a pancultural, ancient instrument steeped in mystical allure. Inspired by sound poetry, noise, free improvisation, Dada, nature, and the human voice, chik white harp explorations aim to conjure visceral experiences. ... more

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