Cooling Our Jets
In my last post, I pretty much took the piss out of winter–and February especially.
Time for true confessions: I actually adore winter.
It is one of my three favorite seasons, in fact. And when a winter overflows with snow, it makes the cut for Top Two.
But, damn, when there’s no snow, that’s when I start to look like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. I sit at my typewriter, in an empty hotel, tapping over and over, “All winter and no snow makes Jocelyn a dull girl.”
Maybe if I didn’t revel in outdoor sports during the winter, I wouldn’t miss the snow so much. Instead, I could recline happily on my chaise lounge, running my pearl necklace along my teeth, sipping chamomile tea with my pinky extended, sniffing, “Jeeves, I do so love dry feet. Why ev-a would those people willfully go out into those drifts of that white stuff?”
But me luuurves the cold and the snow. Two years ago, I went snowshoe running three or four times a week, to the point that I had trouble staying upright, even in the house, without crampons on the bottom of my feet. Last year was The Year of the River Ski, when I would hop onto my old skis and shuffle up and down a frozen creek, tracking snowshoe hares. At the waterfalls, unlike my groom of seven years, I would take off my skis and slide down, rather than kamikazi-ing it down the frozen slope. This year, I was looking forward to more of the same snow-fueled exploration.
But you know the icing on top of a Twinkie? We’ve had snow just that deep so far this year.
And then a little layer of chocolate icing on top of that Suck.
That’s all we’ve had: one small stick of Suck with thin Suck frosting on top, rotting in the fridge.
We found this year’s winter glory, and it’s this amazing thing called–get this–ICE.
One little trip over to the lake just outside our door–you know, the really big, superior lake–and my face looked like this:
That first visit to the Big Ice was followed the next day by another few hours of sliding around the world’s most fascinating playground, and the next day by another few hours, and the next day by another few hours.
Who needs wussy, only-for-faerie-folk, light-as-dust, softie snow when there’s the real, hardcore, tectonic-plate-shifting, bone-crushing ICE two blocks from my house? As of last week, I’m all about throwing my and my children’s bodies onto this junk:
And when we have visitors, such as my sister-in-law and her partner this past weekend, our best idea of “what to do to show the out-of-towners a good time” entails giving them only-slightly-lead-ridden popsicles:
On this killer-cool ice, a person can ponder. A person can stare at the horizon endlessly. A person can listen to the cracks and shifting of the ice, likening it to whales calling each other. The stuff is alive.
Niblet is enamored of the music in the ice; he uses the ice picks Groom made for him to whack away at the ‘cicles, making different melodies each time a handful cascades down.
We’ve also played a form of bocce ball with rocks on the ice, taken hockey sticks out and bashed at the formations, made our own curling stones and slid them across vast expanses, and broken off huge slabs to use as twirly-sleds across the lake. I even carried one huge slice of ice home–4 inches thick–pretending all the way that I’d just come down from The Mount and had been handed new commandments (“Thou Shalt Not Wear Leggings”). Once we got that slab home, Groom fired up a blowtorchything and sculpted a lovely hole right through it. Ice, ice, baby? It’s the fun that just keeps on giving.
Even more, toting home heavy pounds of frozen water reminded us of a hundred years ago, when we would have been cutting great blocks of the stuff to fill our homemade refrigerators–imagine how well the butter would keep…and how uncurdled our yogurt would remain, well into August!
(This photo has nothing to do with Lake Superior or ice, really. I had just paid 12 Sherpas $100,000 to haul me to the top of Everest. I took off my oxygen mask just long enough to snap this picture. Then they hauled me back to basecamp, where a pedicure awaited.)
Without snow so far this year, we’d not been able to use our homemade “digger” sled…but suddenly we realized we could enact a real-life version of our Polar Explorer board game. First musher to the South Pole gets the Queen’s endless gratitude!
Girl, here, takes her new-found ice riding skills off the lake, up to the woods, where she toodles down a frozen flow from a broken cistern. She is Sister Cistern (one small step removed from Sister Christian, right?)
Remember Jack Nicholson’s character in the final scene of The Shining–outside the hotel in the hedge maze, frozen into an eternal stasis?