After a week that consisted largely of time spent lugging sand bags as cold winter water took an unauthorized route downhill, it was nice this afternoon to sit on a rock and watch the water go where it was supposed to.
With a little telephoto action, the area below the spillway of Fish in a Barrel Pond is what you might call a picture-rich environment.
Together, billions of drops create a flow that crashes to the rocks with a steady, hissing roar. The resulting splatter is chaotic, with individual drops flung in all directions. In the warm times, this even soaking results in a luxurious, slippery coating of moss. On the eighth day of a cold snap that began back in January, it results in ice, which has a strange sort of order to it, despite the chaos from whence it forms.
Overhanging trees collect frost from billowing mist, and an even, frozen glaze coats every cold surface not kissed by the sun, which though still feeble, is doing much better since its close call with the southern horizon six weeks ago. What warmth it generates is quickly extinguished as long shadows shift and the temperature can swing dozens of degrees in a matter of minutes.
This is new ice, clean and clear, growing in place of what accumulated during winter’s first half. That ice was old, dull, and opaque, and it fell to the streambed in chunks that shrank to nothing in a warm, late January rain. This ice could last until March before it turns gray and punky and is swept away by the muddy runoff of spring.
The sound of running, splashing water can be soothing, conducive to contemplation. Sitting in the cold, pondering such things as the cycle of the seasons and the beauty of harsh conditions, I think back on the week that just was and one question keeps swirling to the front of my mind: how the heck does a guy wearing waders and a rain coat still manage to get sand inside his long johns?