Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ice, Thrice

January 1, 2015
Moreau Lake State Park, NY

Part One: The Brook

In this lonely glen,
with its brook draining the slopes,
its creased ice and crystals of all hues,
where the spruces and hemlocks stand up
on either side,
and the rush and sere wild oats in the rivulet itself,
our lives are more serene and worthy to contemplate.
     HDT A Winter's Walk, 1843

After getting comfy at the Warming Hut (It should be called the RE-Warming Hut), I went out again with the idea of stopping back at Zen Brook to see if it had settled down. 
Back on Christmas Day, I had gone there with Rick, who was visiting for the holiday. Usually, at this time of year, the brook slows to a trickle, and freezes most wonderfully.
This year, after the very un-usual Christmas Eve rains,
it had come to life again and was churning down the hillside in a torrent. No ice !

A week had gone by, and on this New Year’s Day, the weather had definitely turned much colder. Having the whole day at my disposal, I turned back from the Warming Hut and headed up to where the Red Oak Trail crosses Zen Brook.
I call it Zen Brook because it is a place of meditation, at any time of year. 

It's amazing how many varieties of ice there are --
what fantastic shapes and shadings have formed
out of almost nothing ! 

Thoreau mentions "chandeliers" and "organ-pipes" in his Journal,
in an attempt to describe some of the kinds of ice he observed
on the rivers and brooks. 
Later that night, I open his Journal,
and it's as if he was there beside me,
with his notebook out:

At the fall on Clematis Brook
the forms of the ice were admirable. 

The coarse spray had frozen as it fell on the rocks –
& formed shell-like crusts over them,
with irregular but beautifully clear & sparkling surfaces like egg-shaped diamonds 

each being the top of a club-shaped & branched fungus icicle –

This spray had improved the least core
as the dead & slender rushes drooping over the water & formed larger icicles about them …

on similar slight hints then were built out from the shore & rocks all sorts of fantastic forms

with broader & flatter bases from which hung stalactites of ice 

and on logs in the water
were perfect ice fungi of all sizes
under which the water gurgled flat underneath
& hemispherical. 

A form like this would project over the water
six or 7 inches deep by 4 or 5 in width & a foot long held by the rocks but with a slight weed for core. 

You could take off the incrustations on the rocks – turn them up 
they were perfect shells –
      HDT Journal, January 26, 1853

Just before the brook reaches the Lake, it “disappears” underground.  In the dry pebbled bed,  there were forms even more fantastic. No obvious water formed them. The frozen breath of the Earth.

One imagines Ice Sprites, painting the night air with frost.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, what glorious photos of this beautiful ice! Be sure to click to expand them in order to marvel at every detail. How lucky we are to have such treasures freely strewn at our feet. Thank you for posting these.