Where I live, water comes in three forms – liquid, solid, and vapor – and water pretty much shapes our lives around here. In summer, we sail and swim in its liquid form, or rain falls into our garden, but in winter the solid form takes over underfoot and in the sky. Two days ago, the pond below our house was still open, but yesterday the mercury dropped.
In this morning’s light, I slipped down the back pasture to the pond and gingerly trod an edge – and it held me easily after only one night! Quan and I dug out our skates and we schlitt-schued across the smooth slate of ice, carving long cuneiforms into the tabula rasa of the pond’s surface. From the little ledge where we leave our boots we fly across to the rising field of Tim’s orchard. He keeps a little bench at the shore, where we can rest, squinting into the sun before leaning into the upwind way home.
We had to seize our chance today. Days of smooth ice were a commonplace when I was a kid, but no more. Tomorrow, we are to be treated to a ‘wintry mix’, a euphemism for a snapping flag of rain, fog, sleet, or snow unfurling by turns over the coast. The other day I walked in snow coming down through a fog – a rarity that lends itself to seeing ghosts, another form of vapor. With temperatures above freezing predicted (global weirding), our pond may turn back to water before it turns solid again for the deep winter, there to remain until it breaks from white to blue on the welcome spring day the ice goes out.
Spring’s a long way off yet. Winter is steely here, and it requires the flint spark of friends and cooking to light the fire of the dark solstice season. The human heart seems to have some strange ichor like water that can harden into the ice of hate or evaporate for lack of attention, but pumps steadily in the liquid middle to keep us warm, to keep our inner sea moving.
Freezing and boiling are the riverbanks of life, and the startlingly narrow tepid band between them is the fragile river for all that roots or crawls upon this earth. For all of us, I pray that we can keep the earth’s surface within those bounds and not end in fire or ice.
For myself, I pray that the blood in my heart stays liquid too, without hardening into cynicism even as it witnesses the seemingly endless ability of the human being to brutalize his fellow man, woman, child, animal. But neither let my blood turn to vapor in the wondrous distractions of the 21st century, the will-o-the-wisp attention flitting from spectacle to spectacle – the hundred checks a day of the smartphone, my window into the developing collective unconscious of YouTube and the rest of the network.
I want to keep feeling the lion pulse of liquid love, the fierce protection of my pride and whelps, the personal passion to get it right or die trying. Even pride and jealousy and the baser emotions drive the plasma down our aorta and keep us in touch with the real living world within our reach, not ‘the world’ as it comes from media.
”Reach out and touch someone” – it’s not a bad slogan when literally applied. Love in the abstract is easy, but all real love is local.
– Tom Myers
December 2014, Clark’s Cove Maine