The World of the Ice

So far, this has been the slowest melting season I have seen. Glacially retreating ice, freezing, sublimating, sometimes melting and then refreezing again, is fighting the inexorable rise of the sun tooth and nail. And as slowly, here and there, the world beneath the ice is revealed, emerging flattened and resilient, but still there.

I know it is everywhere, I remember it was there, I could even imagine mice scurrying through scruffy grass under the ice below 3 feet of snow – the same scruffy grass that winter erased in favor of a simple white coverlet that set off everything else to such advantage that I could not stay away with my eyes and my feels and with the camera, as I again and again tried to capture the simplicity of the lines that made up that gorgeous world.

But that white coverlet grew a little lumpy and stained, and I started to think just around the odd corners of my mind that below it must lie a world of great beauty and attraction that I must see sooner rather than later, and tromp on and see emerge all green and summer-like from under the winter blanket only shivering a little and washing and shaking of the last bits of ice with a great shake of spring abundance.

I also know of course that the great melting brings nothing so much as a concentrating of the crap that has fallen on the ice and snow all winter so that the banks on the road and the ground below the bird feeders take on the same thoroughly unwashed look, a dusty look that belies the puddles and then slowly dries into the parched desert of pre-spring that calls loudly for rainstorms and is waiting to be hidden again, this time with the green of the roadside.

But we ain’t there yet and I feel so spoiled with living where the ice retreats while looking still white and lovely and freezing time and again into the wondrous patterns that ice crystals can make — all while I slog every day on my snow shoes from tree to tree to collect sap and escape to the bog again and again and again to be at the edge of the water and study the world beneath the ice that is emerging from under. On the bog where the hummocks of reeds amid still frozen snowy patches allow access now on the snowshoes to the deep gullies of the stream that is the headwaters of the North branch of the Westfield River.

Where three ducks quack and one goose honks and a beaver slaps his tail and dives under the ice enticing the dog to stand in the coldest water and point and point and point. And still the ice and the mysteries of the world of ice and me on my hands and knees, pointing and pointing, too.

4 thoughts on “The World of the Ice

  1. Now is the time of year when I make a trip to Northampton or Hadley and see no snow or very little of it.Then upon returning to my place in Plainfield only to find tons of the white stuff still on the ground. This morning,however, as I was driving back from breakfast at the Old Creamery I saw flocks and flocks of Robins. That was a welcome sight. Then I got a call from a neighbor saying she was very concerned because the Phoebe had returned to its nest. Her great concern was that these birds are insect eaters. Alas I said they have their ways to survive only to receive a call from another local resident who said she had seen insects that very day. There you are nature has its ways..
    I love your opening photograph.

  2. Thank you. Yes, I am concerned about the owls that are doing weird things in the open also, but I think we are now seeing an explosion. I have green grass to the sides of my garden beds that were encased in ice but a day or two ago.

  3. I saw and heard some Robins today, too, and it made me feel better. I love your ice crystals, but I’m not so fond of the ice crystals that have thrust our porch up.

  4. Better save your wrath for the builder who didn’t dig your holes the way they shoulda been… you might have more luck with preventing that from happening tagain han ice crystals.

Tell me what you think!