“I told Dennis when we were married I would live in a shack if we could live by the lake,” Mary said. “He took me up on it and that’s what we did.”
Her connection to the lake is part of the reason she’s willing to keep the list of ice-out dates going. She enjoys keeping tabs on the changes in water level and shoreline.
The average ice-out date has become much earlier during the past quarter century. March ice-outs were rare from 1940 to 1986. The ice has been gone by March 13 of the past 26 years. Ice-outs as late as the middle of April, which is where it will fall this year, have been rare since the 1980s.
Another thing that has changed a lot during that time is the number of people living on the lake, Mary said. She used to know almost everyone; now she only knows a handful of the lake’s residents.
Even though he has been retired for years, Ken Stewart still makes daily visits to offices at the Department of Biological Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, which is where he became interested in limnology. Also called fresh water science, limnology is the study of the physics, chemistry and biology of lakes and streams.
The university is on the south shore of Lake Mendota, which is one of only a handful of United States lakes he knows of that has records going back more than 100 years. He said he doesn’t remember who told him about Mary Buschkowsky, but he was intrigued when he heard she had ice-out records dating back to the 1920s.
“I have a big network of people,” Stewart said. “Madison Lake is one of many lakes I’m trying to track. The long-term goal is to get enough information about enough lakes in the country to get some information about global warming.”