Twitter Facebook

16 Jan

The first time a friend asked me this question on a cold, blustery, below zero January day, I laughed at her.  “What do you mean, have I heard the lake sing yet?”  I asked her.   She finally convinced me that she actually heard our community lake sing, sounding to her like whales in the distance.  Still skeptical, however, the conversation prompted me to research the topic. 

So what exactly is it that makes a lake sing? I discovered that it’s actually the ice that is like a drum skin on a frozen lake. Minor vibrations produce a marked and amplified sound. “The most probable tremor sources are fluid-flow-induced vibrations inside the ice tunnels and crevasse systems” as the lake freezes ( Researchers that study ice suspect that water flowing within the ice system of crevasses and tunnels as it freezes and thaws stimulates elastic vibrations, similar to those of an organ pipe ( Sound waves bounce off the depths of the lake and resonate back to the surface as strange and eerie sounds to the human ear.

A journal written in 1936 by Ralph Waldo Emerson has this entry: “A thin coat of ice covered a part of the [Walden] pond but melted around the edge of the shore. I threw a stone upon the ice which responded with a shrill sound, and falling again and again, repeating the note with pleasing modulation” ( He writes that nothing is as eerie and beautiful as the sound of ice with its range of tones so like the haunting melodies of migrating whales.

So I listen closely now for our lake to sing during winter months, and I have to admit that yes, it is like the haunting sound made by whales.  It seems to sing most once it’s entirely frozen and on moderately windy days.  It definitely is an eerie sound.   It certainly makes for good conversation on an otherwise cold, blustery, below zero January day. 

I’m sharing a poem below I wrote nine years ago this month on the day our middle grandson was born, referencing that on that particular day, as proof I indeed have heard the lake sing. 


The Day You Were Born (1/27/07)

The lake was singing the day you were born.

I heard it myself as I waited that morn.

Up nice and early to head out the door,

To wait with your family for the one we’d adore.

Your birth day is shared with a composer you know.

Mozart’s his name…you heard his works while in utero.

I heard it that morning on the ol’ radio.

I was ready at 5 but chose to wait for daylight

In order to leave at dawn instead of the night.

So I sat at the table and was saying my prayers

That all would go well with what mom and babe bears.

Then all of a sudden I heard the weird sound

Like whales in the distance that soar with abound.

I knew in my heart the lake was singing with joy,

Announcing the birth soon of a wonderful boy!

If Mozart composed another Sonata in D,

It could not possibly be any sweeter to me

Than the lake that was singing the day you were born.


8 Responses to Have You Heard the Lake Sing Yet?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Gramma Golden

Gramma Golden