Some moments are so remarkable you wish you could bottle them. Many of these are small. Like climbing a peach tree, on a hot summer afternoon, resting against the trunk, and feasting on ripe peaches . This day in early September also held an hour of astonishing small beauty, and I felt lucky to have it.
Winter is in the air. The temperatures are not yet cold, a little above zero. But you can taste what’s coming, and now that we lose the sun, temperatures get lower at night. We have had frost. Today I was walking along the river, and I saw ice. I scrambled out into the river bed to look.
All this area has been churned by heavy equipment moving rocks and dredging a channel against future flooding. But water will find a way. Every year it pushes aside the boulders and digs through the gravel barriers. A lot of mud had been churned up. The water had smoothed that into beach-ripples. And on top of these, the first delicate skin of ice had formed.
It was beautiful day. The sky was a wash of deep blue. The only sounds were the rippling of the diminished river, and the plinking of the fragile ice as it cracked in the sunlight. I saw ice trying to form under a thin layer of water. Meanwhile the ice already there was shining with melt. Some had collapsed under its own weight, too thin to hold. As I stepped rock to rock, a family of geese made honking test passages over me as they tried their wings before the long migration.
I spent about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, hopping from rock to rock. Only my footprints marked the mud, and only I would see this brief show of new ice. Already it was failing, tinkling like glass. It was beautiful, extraordinary. A perfect small moment before the tide of winter flows in.