Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Ice, Ice, Baby

The sun is a smudge in the sky and a smear on the ice.

There’s evidence of each turn around the pond. The little aretes of chips frozen on the ice from all the yesterdays after the freeze remind you.

Everyone talks about the washboard feel of it. They’re not paying attention. It’s the sound that’s a thrill. I hear the thrum of the water beneath the slab of ice. The ice lives atop it, really. Alive is not too strong a word. The liquid has been bested and waits its turn, but complains the whole time. All water hates to be in the audience. It seeks the stage, always. Sorry, I’m on it.

There’s wind to whistle in your ears of your own making. The best kind. Even when you steal the breeze in the hot summer in the shadow of your shoulder-of-mutton it’s not your wind. Here you make it.

No hockey. No noise. No fun. Glide.

4 Responses

  1. How perfectly you’ve caught the sound and feel of skating on a frozen pond in Massachusetts. In particular, the way you feel the water move beneath the ice.

    We had a skating pond behind our house in Marshfield, and at the start of each winter we’d freeze logs in place to make hockey goals. What fun we had!

    Thanks for activating this dormant memory, and bringing a little winter cool to the 80-degree damp of Houston.

  2. Okay, I admit I had to look up the definitions for “thrum” and “arête.”

    It turns out I guessed well enough but I thought “thrum” might be closer to “pond fart” and “arête” might have something to do with ancient Greeks and the excellence we create that lives on after we’re gone.

    Oh well.

    You know, I was never a skater but twenty years ago my fiancée’s parents owned some undeveloped land surrounding a lake in the mountains not too far from Binghamton, NY. They gave me a pair of figure skates for Christmas so narrow they cut off the circulation to my toes in an instant.

    We all drove up there for the weekend. Once I got out on the ice (and managed to stand up), I was all by myself and I started skating and I didn’t stop until I’d reached the far side of the lake. I stood there and looked all around at the wilderness all around me. It had been snowing and the world was absolutely silent and totally beautiful. I could see everybody else back by the cars about a half mile away and I realized I had to skate back because they were ready to go.

    As I started back, I think my eyes might have teared up a little . . . but it was really cold that morning (single digits) . . . and my toes were numb.

  3. It’s gratifying to make pleasant people happy in some small way. All I did was steal it from you, then sell it back to you for free, after all.

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