Archive for July, 2007

Patterns in the ice

July 17, 2007

There’s something about a frozen stream. Seemingly caught in mid babble, now silent, solid all the way up to its source. Like you could lift the whole thing up, one giant icicle, molded to the contours of the land.

I’ve seen ice in so many forms in this past week. Clear and smooth, frozen rink like over the surface of a tarn. Opaque and broken, growing on alpine shrubs and falling down a slope to rest jumbled in a heap. Crystal like bobbly fringes clinging to round boulders in mid stream. Banks of glossy stalactites stretching down from mossy overhangs. Fine curved needles pushing a layer of earth out from the dirt wall left by a track cut into the hill. Webbed nets of criss crossing lines, trapped in panes frozen over puddles.

Perhaps people are like ice. Our very selves developing, solidifying in a myriad of different circumstances. Each becoming more distinct, beautiful and in so doing, more set, brittle and inflexible. But still somehow yearning to let go, to be liquid, to merge back into the oneness of the flowing stream…



July 15, 2007

We were in Arthur’s Pass for six days. It was so cold each night the pipes froze up. The air was still and crisp in the mornings and the frost took till lunchtime to melt each day. For two days the power was out as the old black bakelite mains switch in the house gave out after 40 years or so of loyal service. I really enjoyed there being no power. There’s a small enclosed fire (like a pot-bellied stove but rectanglar) which you can cook on, and use to heat water.

Taking care of all the jobs required just to stay warm and fed gave a certain rhythm to the day. Get up, light the fire, boil water, pour hot water on the frozen pipes under the house, cho wood, cook breakfast, boil more water for the dishes, stoke the fire, do the dishes, and so on. There was still plenty of time for walks and playing cards and board games, but the day was measured and paced by the basic routine of survival.

You can’t hurry this. Everything takes as long as it takes. You can’t make the fire start faster, or rush the water to boil. It forces you to slow down, to move methodically through the day, and to go to bed early, when the light fades and the candles sputter out. There’s a sense of the eternal here. I can imagine my grandchildren and great grandchildren coming to this bach. It’ll be just the same in another 40 years. Just like these mountains, quietly measuring the seasons, sitting together in the stillness of the sky.