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The Magic of Ice

1972 Adirondacks trip

10/12/72: Ice came in so many forms that I'd never seen before that the day took on a magical quality. First I picked up a leaf from the frozen trail and looked at the dew drops on it: they'd solidified to ice, tiny carets and facets of bubbles making each droplet look even more like a diamond set into the leaf, much like Salvador Dali. Then I saw more and more of them, strewn on the ground in enormous quantities, and I could even pick them up and brush them off the leaves (which were bruised beneath them from the forces of freezing and expanding, I suppose, the first tactile step in decomposition of these jewels of leaves), holding a handful of cabochon diamonds in my hand. I held up a leaf to the sun, letting crystalline shadows brighten the leaves, and the sun's rays at an angle were breathtaking. Further up the hill the leaves were entirely frosted, tiny dendrites of ice sticking out from the edges served to give a glittery halo to the leaf when it was held up to the sun. They stuck together in their freezing, leaf attached to leaf, each more beautiful than the one before. Then there was a leaf where the water had run into it at the base as into a cup, and when I peeled away the leaf from the chunk of ice, it clearly showed the thicker sections where the vein-indentations had been, showing up in exact relief on the hunk of ice, and even the air-bubbles had frozen into the ice in the pattern of the veins, so that the exact form of the leaf was preserved in frozen three dimensions in the ice-chunk. Then up the sides of the hill there were the frost-gardens of hairbrush ice, incredibly finely structured tentacles of spaghettini which could have been frost, since the chair arms bristled with felt-coats of ice the following morning, or it reflected the porous earth which froze, squeezing out ice crystals as in long tubes which joined each other and froze together to form clumps of frozen bristles, which turned and twisted and separated as they got further from their generating surfaces, and tinkled as I brushed my finger through them in amazement at their length. They were almost a hand-length, some of them, up to about five inches, each clump with "roots" of moist black earth which left mud on the fingers as the delicacies dissolved. At the top, finally, I had a ball jamming semi-frozen puddles with my heel, creating cracks which went across the entire surface where the ice was thin, creating heel-sized holes where the ice was too thick to crack. What an ICED mind-blowing DAY!

10/13/72: Tired on the 9-mile trip to and from Sergeant's Pond today, and debate about coming back at all. There's something so unimaginative about those who say they've been here for 20 years: there wouldn't be that much different to do, they wouldn't have had the chance to see many different places, and through it's pleasant, they wouldn't have given themselves the chance to see if anyplace ELSE might not have been as pleasant or even more pleasant. John seems to be making a thing out of coming here every year, and I must admit that they year was easiest of all in the most troublesome spot for me: mealtimes. But he agreed with me that the conversations invariable picked up when we started talking about our trip of last year, even though he said somewhat prematurely that even HE got tired of hearing himself telling the same tales about the trip. But I can't see that we're getting more adventuresome: I would certainly like to climb Marcy one of these trips, but as the trips go on the March ISN'T climbed, it seems like less and less of a possibility. I can see up coming here in our fifties, puttering around on the easiest walks, sitting around the campfire a lot, telling more and more tales to the younger generation nosing around us, envying them no end. I wouldn't like to see us come to that, and can see myself starting an equal-time activity on my own: for every week we spend in the Adirondacks for John, we spend a week in the islands on my account: now all I have to do is find a place where we can stay for about $200 a week, including plane fare, and begin to make the alternative a reality. Next year we reserve for Lakeside, which is nice in that we'll try some of the other accommodations, since we've now had a cabin (Balsam) twice, been in Brook Room once only, as it seems, and been upstairs in the green room once, and I can't see any advantages to staying elsewhere in the house, don't see the motel since they don't have fireplaces, and Lakeside is the only place left which might be nice: looking directly out on the lake, not having to leave the accommodations to see sunsets and sunrises, and see what the rooms are like. But tomorrow we leave, and maybe by next year the idea of spending a week at Hemlock Hall will AGAIN be appealing to my jaded appetite.