Ceding Ground


The sun peeled itself free of the horizon with a touch of reluctance, first spreading a dull orange stain on the Sea of Japan’s flat surface and then, once a little higher, casting the day’s first pale gaze on the frozen Serebryanka River valley. I was surprised to see the light had been preceded there by an ice fisherman; a heavily-insulated form that crouched on a tackle box and dropped a line down a hole likely bored only moments before.

Spring came early in 2015, forcing the ice fishermen of Ternei to abandon the choice locations at the river mouth and retreat upriver to sections of ice that would still hold their weight. Here, among an almost-surreal landscape of melting river ice, slush, and open water, some were able to prolong their winter vocation if only briefly. Indeed, by dusk this fisherman—who had monitored a network of ice holes there all day—had ceded even more ground to the barrel roll of spring.

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