Ice

Now it’s in the air at night.  True of me:  I love ice.

It does help to be highly resistant to cold, with some sort of insane internal heater that fires up the minute I feel ice in the air, or on my skin.  Sure, I have a fast heart rate and more than my fair share of insulation.  But I don’t think it’s just that I seem to be so resistant.  I’m not immune.  Not many people alive can describe what it feels like to be dying of third-stage hypothermia, and I can.  It almost got me that time and it could again.  So it’s not just the resistance factor.

Rather, it feels spiritual.

Some people feel closest to the divine on a beach with their feet lapped by surf.  Others feel it in deep forests.  Many feel it near lakes, and some out on prairies.  For some, it’s the altitude and the sight of mountain crags.  Perhaps some find it everywhere.  I could easily see feeling spiritual in a nice hot tub.

For me, it is the pitiless slap in the face of a gusty wind when the mercury is in the teens.  It is the muffled calm of a world struck soundless by a foot of fresh powdery snow.  It is ice in my mustache and beard.

It is midnight walks at -5º F, with no one out (and for once, no stray dogs).  It is hauling firewood in periods of sustained cold, bulling the wheelbarrow through the snow and feeding the fire with snow-crusted hunks of pruned apple branches.  It is shoveling snow, feeling it on my flesh, or hacking a path up the cul-de-sac’s packed ice.

It is scraping my wife’s windshield, feeling ice shavings on my wrist.  It is gripping the steering wheel when it feels like a well-cooled beer bottle.  It is chaining up the truck, hypercautious driving, the controlled fishtail turn I must throw in order to climb a 17% cul-de-sac without those chains.

Most of all, it is interdependency, a nearness to others, rare and dear for us natural loners.  It’s making sure Mrs. Anderson’s walk is shoveled and icemelted.  It’s helping push stuck cars, palms on frigid metal.  It’s putting out a little food for the birds, and giving the dogs as much as they want.  It is being gladder to see others.  It has a religious quality, a sense of good cheer and all being in this together.

Perhaps it’s the time when I most feel the gods like me.

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