Tuesday, December 3, 2013

world gone fuzzy


We have friends who have skated our river with us every winter since we moved here.  Each time they come, with their gear and shovels and warm food and lively talking and play, we make plans for when we are going to be able to do it again.  But each year, it seems we have just a handful of times down there before the weather changes, a snow storm followed by rain, or a thaw, occurs, and suddenly our river skating is over for the year.  

We have learned that the conditions must be just right for the river to be skatable.  Cold.  Frigid, actually.  And early winter days -- before the snowstorms and ice storms of later in the winter that will make the surface bumpy and difficult -- those days can be just right.

And so, over the past week, I have been asked quite frequently: Is it frozen yet?


I can see the river from our bedroom window.  And I know it is not.  Yet.  But I like to go down from time to time to get a closer look, to see how the surface is shaping up.

Earlier this week, I ventured down when I needed a break from my computer screen; my eyes were starting to swim.




Obviously the river was not ready for skating.  But it was a cold, crisp morning out there.  The ground was crunchy under my boots.  There was no snow, but there was a hard frost.  And I noticed how it had touched so many of the plants and objects that are so familiar all summer long. The blackberry patch, the fencing, the burrs and leaves.  Even some forgotten toys on the bank.  Not yet blanketed in snow, but touched.  By the change in season.









I spied a maple off to the left, marked in blue, reminding me of how soon sapping season will come.



Even if I could not get out on the ice, I did spend enough time down on the bank to feel the shift I have felt each winter here.  As I walked back up the stairs, I once again saw the house above me from the bank.  A different perspective, a fuzzing up and then refocusing of my lens, seeing our property once again as a river house, a home intentionally situated on the bank of a river.  As I do each year, I moved from feeling as though I was centered up on the hill going down for a peek to feeling as though the river was my center, the reason the rest of all of this is here.


Some night soon, we five will -- as has now become our tradition here -- lie on our backs in the dark on the ice.  And look back up at the house.  Its barn and chimneys and orchard and fruit brambles and glowing lights.  That night will be just for us.  It will be quiet and cold, and likely something will pull us away soon after.  Hunger, chill, fatigue.  And then we will also have our nights of busy happy laughing slippery fun with others here as well.  

These will be our river moments.  Soon.  When the frost turns to a hard freeze and extends the expanse of our place here out onto the river.  To look at the stars.  And to lie upon something that only exists for the briefest of moments.

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