Are you in or are you out? That's what I kept thinking about winter, as I trudged along on a frigid beach walk, the wind doing nothing to sand down my mood, though my face was taking a shellacking. It is that strange, tentative, brave time of the northern year. The witch hazel is brilliant; snowdrops are peeping forth; seaweed is looking acidly fresh; yellow crocus glint in the dead leaves. Geese are migrating; the cardinals have arrived.
By the time I got round the bend to the pond, I was grimly determined not to succumb to the temptation to hitchhike (though I wonder if anyone up here would stop? or has ever seen a hitchhiker?) Then something along the edge of the pond caught my eye, and I stretched my turtled neck up a bit from my coat collar to look further, and there, at the edge of the water, was a miracle of laced and crenellated ice.
I can only imagine the conditions that made this display possible. Everything soaked, drenched, dripping, and then a sudden snap? Water pooling around the base of cattails, and then suddenly upthrusting with a plummet in temperature? It was breathtakingly beautiful--such an in between place--frozen, and thawing. The pond was open; a current of water moved rapidly across the middle.
As I gazed, images of Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures bubbled across my memory; I could see how Andy Goldsworthy could find inspiration here. Some of the ice had turned into rock crystal carved around broken twigs.
Some of it had mounded, bearing an eerie resemblance to jellyfish. There was the promise of summer, of the sand littered with moony translucent discs catching the sun as the tide creeps out, leaving them beached.
How odd is the behavior of ice. I don't understand it--the science of it--I wish someone would explain how it creeps and thrusts and drapes and heaves, how it hangs on while around it everything else melts. Its magic is not, however, beyond comprehension.
I broke into a trot, raced home for my camera, not to lose the light of the setting sun, which of course played tricks on me anyway. My fingers froze, but at least I could share this sight...that is the motivation behind so much photography, isn't it? I want to show you....you won't believe what I saw....
So here's my slow love moment--and I did feel a pang in my heart, a stab of love for this gorgeous world, and a longing for it to go on forever, and an ache because it won't. Even as I want this moment to last, I am aware of that I want an end to the cold, just as, months from now, I will want an end to the heat...But there is the ice to tell me that nothing will ever be this beautiful again. Until something else is. Winter's end, teetering with abandon at the edge of the stage, taking her final bows in this long curtain call of a season's close. There will probably be more snow, more ice, more frost, but here, meditate on a glimpse of time thwarted, thaw stopped cold.