This winter, we’re infatuated with ice. The cold bites at our fingers, the wind snaps in our faces, and we dream of spring. Meanwhile, we stare at the ice on our beloved Great Lake.

We’re mesmerized by the villages of ice fishing shanties off South Bass Island. We’re captivated by the snowy owls perched on (and camouflaged by) wide white harbors. We marveled at the ice shoves and ice dunes and ice balls and other weird ice formations that transform our summer playground into a winter wonderland.

Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, is the first to freeze. This year, it froze almost 100 percent, melted to 50 with a few warm spells and is back in the 90-percent range. But it doesn’t freeze flat and clear like a skating rink.

There’s sparking pure blue ice, which sparkles in the sun like Elsa’s castle from Frozen. There are dirty-looking chunks mixed with sand. There are all kinds of patterns of snow and ice.

This NOAA graphic shows the ice coverage on the Great Lakes over the last two months. Erie is nearly 100 percent. (NOAA) photographer Dave Petkiewicz captured cool patterns on a helicopter ride from Burke Lakefront Airport to South Bass Island last month. Paratus Air pilot Ryan Maehs hugged the shore, so we could see every community from the air.

See photos of the communities and take our shoreline quiz here.

Want to see the ice up close? You can watch Lake Erie ice mount and melt right from Public Square, thanks to artist Julia Christensen’s Waiting for a Break livestream.