Wednesday, February 21, 2007


"Cooling Our Jets"









In my last post, I pretty much took the piss out of winter--and February especially.

Time for true confessions: I actually adore winter.

It is one of my three favorite seasons, in fact. And when a winter overflows with snow, it makes the cut for Top Two.

But, damn, when there's no snow, that's when I start to look like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining. I sit at my typewriter, in an empty hotel, tapping over and over, "All winter and no snow makes Jocelyn a dull girl."



Maybe if I didn't revel in outdoor sports during the winter, I wouldn't miss the snow so much. Instead, I could recline happily on my chaise lounge, running my pearl necklace along my teeth, sipping chamomile tea with my pinky extended, sniffing, "Jeeves, I do so love dry feet. Why ev-a would those people willfully go out into those drifts of that white stuff?"

But me luuurves the cold and the snow. Two years ago, I went snowshoe running three or four times a week, to the point that I had trouble staying upright, even in the house, without crampons on the bottom of my feet. Last year was The Year of the River Ski, when I would hop onto my old skis and shuffle up and down a frozen creek, tracking snowshoe hares. At the waterfalls, unlike my groom of seven years, I would take off my skis and slide down, rather than kamikazi-ing it down the frozen slope. This year, I was looking forward to more of the same snow-fueled exploration.

But you know the icing on top of a Twinkie? We've had snow just that deep so far this year.

Suck.

And then a little layer of chocolate icing on top of that Suck.

That's all we've had: one small stick of Suck with thin Suck frosting on top, rotting in the fridge.

But.

Then.

We found this year's winter glory, and it's this amazing thing called--get this--ICE.












One little trip over to the lake just outside our door--you know, the really big, superior lake--and my face looked like this:



That first visit to the Big Ice was followed the next day by another few hours of sliding around the world's most fascinating playground, and the next day by another few hours, and the next day by another few hours.

Who needs wussy, only-for-faerie-folk, light-as-dust, softie snow when there's the real, hardcore, tectonic-plate-shifting, bone-crushing ICE two blocks from my house? As of last week, I'm all about throwing my and my children's bodies onto this junk:


There is a loveliness and grandeur to the pack ice that stops my breath.





And when we have visitors, such as my sister-in-law and her partner this past weekend, our best idea of "what to do to show the out-of-towners a good time" entails giving them only-slightly-lead-ridden popsicles:



On this killer-cool ice, a person can ponder. A person can stare at the horizon endlessly. A person can listen to the cracks and shifting of the ice, likening it to whales calling each other. The stuff is alive.
















Niblet is enamored of the music in the ice; he uses the ice picks Groom made for him to whack away at the 'cicles, making different melodies each time a handful cascades down.



We've also played a form of bocce ball with rocks on the ice, taken hockey sticks out and bashed at the formations, made our own curling stones and slid them across vast expanses, and broken off huge slabs to use as twirly-sleds across the lake. I even carried one huge slice of ice home--4 inches thick--pretending all the way that I'd just come down from The Mount and had been handed new commandments ("Thou Shalt Not Wear Leggings"). Once we got that slab home, Groom fired up a blowtorchything and sculpted a lovely hole right through it. Ice, ice, baby? It's the fun that just keeps on giving.

Even more, toting home heavy pounds of frozen water reminded us of a hundred years ago, when we would have been cutting great blocks of the stuff to fill our homemade refrigerators--imagine how well the butter would keep...and how uncurdled our yogurt would remain, well into August!











(This photo has nothing to do with Lake Superior or ice, really. I had just paid 12 Sherpas $100,000 to haul me to the top of Everest. I took off my oxygen mask just long enough to snap this picture. Then they hauled me back to basecamp, where a pedicure awaited.)





Without snow so far this year, we'd not been able to use our homemade "digger" sled...but suddenly we realized we could enact a real-life version of our Polar Explorer board game. First musher to the South Pole gets the Queen's endless gratitude!



Girl, here, takes her new-found ice riding skills off the lake, up to the woods, where she toodles down a frozen flow from a broken cistern. She is Sister Cistern (one small step removed from Sister Christian, right?)

Ah. Now *this* is a chaise lounge.


And *this* is a playhouse...until it melts, and the children are crushed under the enchanting A-frame.








Remember Jack Nicholson's character in the final scene of The Shining--outside the hotel in the hedge maze, frozen into an eternal stasis?

Luckily, my stasis here doesn't involve scary twins or REDRUM kids. All I am is ECI YPPAH.

21 comments:

Hammer said...

Awesome stuff. That looks like a lot of fun.

CSL said...

That's a lot of ice. I'm so glad to hear you really love it after all. Makes me feel far less guilty about being glad I'm not that far north. And one of your THREE favorite seasons? Which one don't you like?

Voyager said...

Cool Jocelyn. Very Cool.
V.

velvet girl said...

What great photos! And what great fun that looks like. You're lucky to have such a winter playground so close.

I'm a winter-lover, too. Especially with big storms and lots of snow... and like so many others, we've been SOL as far as that goes this year. It's not happy-making. :(

-velvet

Em said...

The photos of the ice are just astonishing! I sooo want to come play at your house! Thank you for sharing those.

mist1 said...

.redruM

.esrever ni yttiw eb tonnac I. sdrawkcab si tnemmoc sihT

urban-urchin said...

That's beautiful! We just have dirty slush. Whee!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Ice is Nice. Looks like a lot of fun. Envious as usual.

oreneta said...

I love the creaking and banging and popping that the ice makes as it grumbles away to itself...
http://davidruth.blogspot.com/
Check out this site, he is a glass sculptor who spent six weeks in Antarctica photographing and making molds of ice for future works...lots of spectacular photos.

choochoo said...

Wow. ice is cool. It's been snowing for days here, and it's gonna snow for many more. The pooch drags most of it into the house several times a day. Want me to send you some?

Jazz said...

"Jeeves, I do so love dry feet. Why ev-a would those people willfully go out into those drifts of that white stuff?"

That is me. And yet, here I sit in Canada. Why can't I move to, hell, I dunno, Arizona without it involving acres of red tape?

furiousBall said...

Holy crap that's beautiful and it looks like fun. Since when is Minnesota in Antartica? Are the taxes reasonable there?

Glamourpuss said...

The great outdoors.

Very pretty but it must play havoc with your cheeks.

If you've finished with Jeeves, please send him on to me - my toenails need painting.

Puss

Jocelyn said...

Hammer--You and your namesake would have a heck of a time bashing the stuff up.

CSL--I hate summer. Really. I can do -40 degrees, but when it gets over 70, I lose all semblance of civility.

Voyager--Thanks! Now go admire your crocuses.

Velvet--Just when I had given up on a snowy winter, we're now having predictions of a big storm this weekend. There is always hope.

Em--So you just get onto I-35 and drive until its end. Then get out. You're here.

Mist1--You're witty in any direction. You're bi-witty.

Urchin--Dirty slush is only good if it's the name of a cocktail.

LGS--You, as always, are the perfect example of graciousness.

Oreneta--Thanks for the link. I find myself contemplating a career in ice study, and Antarctica might be the last remaining workplace for me in a few years.

Choochoo--Really? It's snowing a lot there? I kind of think I know where you are, and I don't picture snow there. I guess I don't know where you are. Except, *ahem*, in my heart.

Jazz--You and Mr. Jazz need to divorce. Then you each need to marry an Arizonian. Move there. Move in with Mr. Jazz. In a few years, divorce your Arizonian spouses and remarry each other. It's a simple plan, really.

Furiousball--The Northshore totally looks like Antarctica. Taxes in MN are actually pretty high, so although I'd recommend a move for all sorts of other reasons, taxes ain't one of 'em. Btw, I'm having trouble getting to your blog sometimes when I try to visit (my fault for not bookmarking or doing some sort of live feed thing...way beyond my ability), so that's why my visits have been infrequent.

Glamourpuss--Which cheeks do you mean? They're all numb, at any rate. Jeeves is on his way over...

Lee said...

I would be the biggest whiny titty baby you eve saw out there, but damn! those pictures are amazing!

Dan said...

I think the temperature in my room went down 40 degrees after loading this post.

I love bocce, but ice bocce ... now that's gotta be TOUGH.

Lhianon said...

I grew up in Duluth
and I honestly miss THE Lake
and the snow
and the real winter...
GREAT pictures, thanks so much for sharing!

Top cat said...

These pictures are incredible.
Brrrrrr I'm cold, I'm going inside.
This makes Michigan look like the sunshine state.
Thanks for stopping by today.:)
tc

Diana said...

I adore you. Really. Who knew so much fun was to be had with ice? I now regret that we've scads of the snow. Why couldn't it pelt us with large slabs of ice?

Oh. The roof? Maybe I'd better rephrase that wish.

CSL said...

Oh my God - 70 is when I think it's just starting to get liveable again! 80 and I'm in heaven!

Mother of Invention said...

Very cool pics! Such a neat thing to do! (Oh yeah, and so was climbing Everest!!)