one of the best things we saw

ice 1On the coldest and clearest of the cold crisp days, the kids and I went out. We knew where we were going. We were going to find ice. We played on the frozen creek branch, where the ice was thick enough to sling them around on the sled. Unlike my Fellow Man, I am not a Canadian, and so I am wary of ice, tending more toward a sense of wonder than play. Or rather, I haven’t learned how to play on it as well as he. In the deepest part of winter, he is definitely the “Fun Parent.” I’m the one more likely to stop and listen to the gurgling song of the creek water, or counsel children to count the rays of the ice crystals. That’s what I do while my family twirls and slides on their feet and rear 4

The creek branch is sometimes too small for my children’s icy aspirations. So we walked half way up the hill to our neighbor’s good watering hole, hoping that it was frozen enough to walk upon. And it was. We pushed the sled around. We threw some stones to hear the strange wing-ing sound they make as they skitter along the ice. And then the colors drew us in.  There’s this strange aquatic plant at the bottom of our local ponds.  It looks like bright green mermaid hair – it was shining in the sun – we had to get down on our bellies and just look below the ice, to the bottom of the 3

We wondered at the depth of the ice, and how it stayed so clear, so cold. We wondered at the clarity of the water and the depth of the pond. The quality of the sun. There were little bottom feeders darting around, now and then, scared of our shadows maybe. We wondered what they were eating down there. It was wonderful to wonder together.

what is this perfect spiral-y thing, trapped in the ice?

what is this perfect spiral-y thing, trapped in the ice?

But maybe the best thing we saw was the Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), in its full grown aquatic body. It was unperturbed by our presence above, and crawled through the tangle of algae and old leaves, waving its long tail, holding on sometimes with its beautiful wet paw feet. It didn’t look cold at all. We watched it for a long time.newt

It is such a gift, to live here, with all this water. Now, under the clear cold winter sun, it freezes solid, and we can lay across its top without making a ripple, without holding our breath. We can just look at the stillness beneath. In the muggy sleepy days of summer, we won’t want that perspective anymore. We will take a deep breath and dive in, with the Eastern Newts and all.

6 thoughts on “one of the best things we saw

  1. I hesitate to observe that this was a ‘cool’ adventure! The clarity of the ice would suggest that it wasn’t all that thick … I hope you are always careful! Although, the pond doesn’t look all that deep! Really clear, really beautiful. Thanks for sharing the adventure (and your sense of it). I wonder what it’s like to be frozen beneath a layer of ice … if even for just a few weeks. I wonder whether Newts get claustrophobic? I wouldn’t think so.

    • the newt looked so relaxed – it looked really nice under there – for a newt. and yes, we didn’t walk out beyond where the water was more than a foot or two deep, and we brought a rope, too.

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