Friday, December 16, 2005

The Ice Storm

I awoke this morning to a world of intense beauty, the cars and handrails glazed with ice and the trees clicking and sparkling in the sunlight. Wish every morning was like this: sliding carefully to my car while my housemate heroically breaks the ice before me with a shovel; ten minutes or so of vigorous exercise whacking at my car windows, with big pieces of ice sliding off like the top layer of crystallized sugar when you make rock candy. (Opening the frozen door was interesting: my housemates and I took turns grabbing the handle and flinging ourselves backward before it finally broke loose.) Life starts turning into tiny streams . . . dropping off the icicles hanging from my sideview mirror, faintly tapping onto the snow. I hear my neighbor's windchimes. I hear ice somewhere, everywhere, slowly beginning to crack and craze and peel off and melt away. There are infinitesimal rainbows glimmering on tree branches, like many rings on the hands of one of those rich ladies who is very thin and very quiet.

Ice storms always remind me of Robert Frost's poem, which you should read in its entirety, but if you need encouragement to do so, here is its most applicable portion:

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

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