River Ice

It is very cold, very crisp. Ice is everywhere. The trail parking lots are ice skating rinks, and we walk slowly and carefully to the trail head. Little juncoes and sparrows jump around, all puffed out against the cold. Birders leave black sunflower seeds out on the railings and stumps. There are always birds gathering in this spot. We walk on the trail which is bumpy, icy and slow-going. We visit the vernal pool which is frozen over but sloppy–someone walked over it when it wasn’t yet set, so there are footprints all over it; not good for skating. It’s thick and pebbly ice, and shines a dull glow in the slanting late afternoon light.

The river is at low tide, leaving several different types of ice on the shore. There are piles of chopped ice that undulate in waves where the tide left it at its highest point. You can move this ice–shiny piles of tiny shards that scatter like sand when you push a toe in it. In the middle of the sandy shore, there is the same kind of ice, but it is frozen solid into a mountain ridge-like line, black and gray with sediment. Then there are big huge plates of thin clear ice. These are perfect for stomping on; the satisfaction of shattering ice is a deep sensory pleasure.

So many forms of ice! Each river rock on the exposed shore is splattered with ice spots, rendering them somewhat slippery as you walk on them. It was so cold that spray from the tide froze immediately leaving a beautiful pattern of dots scattered on each rock. The shore is always clotted with tree trunks, and now they are glazed with ice, making them a delight to gaze at, shiny and thickly coated like they were dipped in sugar syrup and candied. I’m not sure why it’s so enjoyable to look at something so shiny, coated in ice. What biological chord does something shiny strike in us?

We crunch as much ice as we can, as Canada geese walk and feed along the breaking water further out. We carefully walk across the parking lot to the street where the car is parked and drive off.

Notes: It has been very cold here! Single digit nights, days in the teens. The ice is a welcome change, and I got in my first bit of skating yesterday. I am fascinated by how many different kinds of ice there are, and how many different shapes it takes.