If I had my choice, it would be ice.
I was born in Hawaii.
It’s been downhill since then.
I was the fourth child. With my father finishing his PhD south of the border, of course my mother went home to Honolulu to deliver her last child.
Then it was back to Montana for 17 years.
When I was six I remember being awakened by my father just after dusk. I had curled up in the friendly roots of a Ponderosa Pine tree in the snow. I could not feel my toes, but Papa made me march up the hill in front of him. Saved my life. All the while he was lecturing me how falling asleep in the cold is how people die. “Keep wiggling” was a mantra when we went skiing, when we were doing anything in the cold.
Another freezing moment of my memory was when my friend, Karen, and I had gone skiing at Snowbowl at 35 degrees below. We reasoned that the lift lines would be short.
We were right.
At the top of the mountain, the windchill was another 35 degrees, putting the temp at about -70. Icycles as big as small dogs pointed horizontally from the radio towers. It was what we called “BRRFUCKINGCOLD” through bluing lips.
Of course no lips were anywhere close to visible. When it is that cold you have to filter your air through something wool. I remember the crystals in the air, tiny particles of moisture so fine we could not see them.
The air glittered.
The skiing was great.
Another icy memory was when Kim Whitmire, in about fifth grade, on a dare, licked the pole of the swingset. I remember the ambulance. Recess was over immediately and I don’t know how they got her unstuck but she learned a hard lesson for all of us. Ouch. Can’t tell that story without saying “ouch.”
Years of frost seasons on the farm brought glorious if artificial ice in the morning after sometimes up to 8 hours of sprinklers protecting crops. Pear blossoms encased in ice, grape trellises groaning under the weight of acres of frozen water.
Last night I drove my son to a performance in Georgetown. We had forty minutes to spare; no one was on the roads. So as we waited in one of three parking spots I could have chosen, (two years of rehearsals in Georgetown and I have never found a parking spot Sunday afternoon on the street) we watched the icy rain glide down our windshield. When I recorded it on my phone it looked like glass bubbles from some surrealistic horror film settling slowly onto Georgetown. Creepy.
This morning the rain, frozen to everything, turned the forest outside my window into a glass house. Shimmery, shivery and chillingly delightful
Fire or ice?
I’m definitely up for the ice.