It was 47 degrees when I got there Saturday afternoon, and nary a frozen drop of water was to be found. Kinda disheartening in mid-February. But then the cold snap snapped that night, and by the next morning I discovered just how ice forms in the creek. I always assumed a thin skim of ice would creep out from the shores where the water eddies in pools, and then layer by layer it would thicken into those giant slabs. But when I went down to refill my water jugs (we turn off the water in winter and just filter creek or streamlet water) I discovered that those big shelves of ice were in fact thousands of tiny shards, smushed together in a clear slushy mix. I suppose they gather and pack together and then the water in between the shards, trapped and still, then freezes the whole thing together.
It's amazing to continuously discover the little acts of the world around you. One time when I was out camping with my dad there was a cold front that blew through during the night, like the one this last weekend. In the morning I exited my tent with my breath going out in poofy white gusts, which is always fun because you can pretend you're smoking, or steaming like a dragon. I went to pick up my water bottle, which was just a repurposed liter coke bottle [a camping hint if you're hiking very far—soda bottles are much lighter than any canteens they sell in stores, and BPA's only gather in the liquid if it's been in there for a while]. Anyway, I picked it up to take a swig, but as soon as I touched it there was a krrak and the clear water suddenly froze into shards of ice! It was like a film trick. My dad, an ex-physicist, explained that that was supercooling, which happens under very specific conditions. Despite a hiking career of 50+ years he had never seen it before.
Little moments like that, where you get startled by a new understanding... I don't have a phrase for it. I considered writing "that's what life is all about", but that is intensely stupid. Life is about many things. I guess it's just a joy of learning constantly. And of being outside a lot. Who knew I would get so excited about ice!
The last two photos of what I got a craving for—that's right, FRITO PIE. Do you know it? Fritos topped by chili topped by cheese and whatever else you want. Do you like how I made a side salad to assuage my guilt?