Saturday, December 18, 2004

Ice Flowers

I've never seen anything quite like them.

I'd wandered down a path toward the river's edge. It ended at a small cove where the water is slow and shallow and floods when the river is full. A stubble of small twigs rose from the bronze surface just beyond the bank, and on each twig, an inch or so off the surface was a bauble -- a graceful collar -- of glittering ice. They looked like ice bubbles, not spherical though; some were ovoid, some discoid, others conical, all eccentric variations on the torus. The twigs ran through them like axles. The water, from time to time, would swell and touch the bottom of one, but then would recede and leave the bright bubbles suspended there just above the surface. There were dozens of them. They looked like flowers, the ultimate abstraction of flowers, just stem and swelling. They glistened in the low morning sunlight.

How had they come to be, these night-blooming ice flowers ? What vagaries of flow and cold and darkness had nourished them ?

And what species of night-blooming ice flower -- strange, abstract and doomed -- am I, on this darkening way, becoming ?

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