Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winter Wonders

I know that not a day goes by without a magical moment provided by Nature. Many people fill their lives with all sorts of things to keep them busy and this, often times, distracts us from being able to witness these magical experiences. This is the story of the moment that I witnessed yesterday afternoon…

Joanne and I were taking Koly for a walk through the park that is just a few blocks away from our house. We noticed that one large area of this park had recently flooded (during the two days of warm weather and lots of rain) and that the surface of this water had frozen (in the few days since the rain – when the temperatures dropped again).

This flood zone filled the space of more than two football fields and when the sun broke through the clouds, a blinding glare reflected off the surface.

Over the last two days, the flood water levels have been slowly dropping. When the water drains, the ice on the surface of the water begins to crack and break off and this can be quite an interesting event to witness. I stood at the edge of this frozen water, surrounded by many trees and fallen branches when I first heard it. It sounded like a small cascade of broken glass.

When the ice formed, it froze to the trees and now that the ice sheet was loosing elevation (mere millimeters at a time) there was a lot of tension between the ice and eventually it would break away from the tree, causing the sounds. In between the sounds of these smaller events – that only occurred at the base of the trees – were the very loud cracks that would echo through this area. These sounds were caused when long fractures within this frozen football field occurred. These sounds didn’t occur very often, but when they did it was really something unique to behold.

I have seen similar events, throughout my life and I still marvel at these occurrences, but this was not the magical moment that I wanted to share with you.

We continued our walk around this great frozen field and then I saw it…

Triangles in the grass. I have never seen anything like this before. There was a small puddle of water – maybe only an inch or so deep – that had frozen over top of the grass below. The thickness of the grass, depth of the puddle and elevation of the water in the puddle had all worked together to create this magical display of Nature’s architecture.

As we continued our walk, I scoured the ground for more examples of this phenomena and found none. I thought that it was interesting that our meandering path through this park had led us to possibly, the only small area where these conditions existed to create these geometric formations of ice crystals.

Moments like these are very special in my life. I always feel that, somehow, I was led to these places for the soul purpose of learning. During these moments, I can hear an old Native prayer being spoken in my mind…

“O Great Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze – make us wise so that we may understand what you have to teach us, help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock, make us always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes, so when life fades, as the fading sunset, our spirits may come to you without shame.”


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