Perhaps because I was a crow in another life, I am drawn to glittery baubles wherever they appear--around women's necks, hanging from the ceiling of the Metropolitan Opera, whatever, I have to stare.  And we all know how New York does that magical thing: just when you think the days cannot get more dreary and sopping, a gift arrives--a burst of radiance lifts you up out of your boots.

The other evening I wheeled around the corner off Sixth Avenue onto 43rd Street, hurrying to dinner, when Poof! There appeared before me as if at the snap of a wand an ice show of epic proportions. I know, I know. You're thinking: ice sculptures, so very suburban wedding. (And so? what's wrong with that? But never mind.)

These were refined and marvelous, and anyway, like I said, a crow in another life. They sparkled. I couldn't resist. Gigantic snails, moths, dragonflies and toadstools were sprawled across the block.

The whole thing was so ridiculous and so enchanting: a woodland scene of ice, a veritable Alice moment of things larger than life, or perhaps I had suddenly shrunk--all this even though I had not yet reached the "Drink Me!" bourbon I was looking forward to ordering as soon as I sat down. Thoughts of a cool Old Fashioned vanished and I had to linger over this improbable scenario for a while.

I couldn't find any explanation as to why these batty sculptures were hanging out on Sixth Avenue, who had made them, or why they had been left there. They were sitting on what looked like a shallow pool, or basin. But I looked closer and realized that the bee's lines were softening. The ice had a gentle gleam to it, because it was melting.

The toadstools were dripping; the snail had tracks of tears; even a dragonfly looked as if it were about to lift off the bubbling surface of a pond.

Meantime I had had to remove my coat, I was so warm. And beginning to feel a bit panicky.

Here we are, mid-December, and we're manically swinging from balmy winter days in which it is best to go out in sweaters, and frigid days when the wind is blowing so hard you want to bury your head in a hood.

There in front of me the Guardian of the place appeared, from out of nowhere, bearing a wide window scraper. He was pushing the slush away from the sidewalk, trying to shore up the bases of the sculptures.

"Too warm for winter," he muttered, when I asked him how long the sculptures would be on display. "Too warm for ice."

Across the street--because it has to be this way, right? this being New York, a place of profound synchronicity and occasional good karma to make up for all the bad--a gigantic poster in a window caught my eye, a confusion of messages. When I took a closer look, I realized that I was seeing the night's lit buildings, and the ice sculptures, too, superimposed on a picture of a penguin sliding down an iceberg.

The International Center for Photography has a show of photographs by one of my heroes, Sebastia Salgado; these are from his recent book, Genesis. (I interviewed him for The New York Times. Go, before it closes on January 11. Go, and fall in love with the world all over again.)

And along the side of the ICP building is a photo show you can see from the street, pictures by James Balog of melting glaciers. Of course, because it has to be this way, right? Everything connects.

Our gorgeous feats of engineering--what miracles of ingenuity and imagination humankind has achieved--our beloved, gravity-defying world of skyscrapers, wreathed in glittering lights. Our affection for the creature world, such that we carve its portraits in ice so we can decorate our sidewalks--even while we crowd them from their homes, crowd them off the very planet.

Our art melts. Our world melts. The only question left is whether our hearts will melt swiftly enough to let a torrent of care and concern and love rush in to change our climate-changing ways.


Judith said...

We have seen some amazing exhibits at the ICP while in NYC -- and now we have reason to go again before January 11.

You might also enjoy the coffee table book, "The Oldest Living Things in the World," by Rachel Sussman, if you haven't seen it -- It makes you realize how old this planet really is —and how amazing.

JSBB said...

WOW! What a follow up to yesterday's exquisite turkey-tail mushroom (at least it appears to be that). Also appears that Coriolus versicolor/trametes versicolor may be a powerful anti-viral and medicinal mushroom. ( See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnJ5nT5SY6I )

Thanks for illustrating the interconnectedness of it all with the ice shows. Grouping these things together adds a new level of magic. And I love your concluding image -- Climate change matters if you: Breathe air... etc. Thank you.

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MJH DesignArts said...

Beautiful beyond measure. A reminder to be present in the moment, for it is fleeting. Thank you for the reminder. xoxo Mary

Phylicia Masonheimer said...

Hello Dominique! I just wanted to comment to let you know I just finished your book (I'm embarrassed to say I had not heard of your work until reading it) and enjoyed absolutely every minute of it! I looked for a way to email you a 'thank you' but this will have to do! The book came at just the right time for me - I'm 24, and a career woman, and up to my ears in stress. Your book helped my perspective, made me laugh and left me feeling like I really knew you as a person. Not many authors can do that. I will be recommending it on my blog. Also - in part of your book you referred to snowdrops as having 'faces' - I read it aloud to my husband, who has made fun of me for saying the flowers in our deck garden are 'little people'. ;) Thanks again!

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