Island Blog – This Day, This Ice, This Learning

The morning almost capsizes me. I blame the ice. There I am, all ready to venture forth in the arm-crossed and defiant black of a winter’s dawn, one that seems unwilling to appear at all, and I find myself confounded. Mornings should be mornings. That’s what I think. Winter has no respect for human comfort, nor for early venturing. I find my car an igloo. Beneath my skittering feet, slip-ice threatens to upskittle me in a most undignified way. I keep thinking, what if someone comes along, eventually, after some hours considering the unwillingness of the day to appear at all only to find me all spreadeagled, my skirts around my ears and my body cracked and held in frozen gravitas? Well, that’s not going to happen. I turn but slowly, holding onto gate and fence and inch my way back into the warmth of the house. You should not have gone out, said the house. You old eejit. I concur.

Light comes, and most welcome. You are, late, and I don’t do late, but it seems you are quite fine about it. We may need to have a word. It is always intriguing, nay infuriating, when things or people feel quite fine about not explaining themselves or at the very least proffering apology. Perhaps Dawn is above such rulings. I may have to accept it. I turn towards my ordinary tasks. Clean out and light the fire. This requires another traverse across the slip-ice to the wood stack. I know the rules. I studied, if you can believe it, Posture Control now renamed Adequate Motor Output (if you don’t mind) at school. I know, scary. Keep your body directly over your feet. Heel first, then toe, no flat foot. I hear the voice in my head and it comes to me now because I am one who is utterly determined to remain upright for as long as she possibly can. We manage it, me and the wood, even though it distremebles me somewhat as I take in the humph and lumph of a lift of snow laden logs in my arms. This imbalance requires intelligent correction for it is not just me keeping me directly over my feet. I now have a big armful of insensitive logs to accommodate and before me, thus altering my centre of gravity. See how complicated life can be?

The morning passes without incident. I sew and listen to an audio book, warm in the firelight and, later, blazed by a sun who is thankfully melting the slip-ice, I watch it melt, hear it crack and fissure, leak and then disappear randomly. Why this hole and here? Why not there, or there? I walk midday. The ice, it seems, is having fun. The chutzpah of something so fragile and yet so powerful during its short reign! I admire it even as I dint and divvy my way over the stumbleground of latent snow fall, still crisp but not as ice distilled as this side of the track or that where the wide tyres of massive vehicles have rendered walking an impasse, even if I am learned of Adequate Motor Output and a confident student. I am always looking down. Watching, heel toe, no flat, catch the stones, heel, toe, no flat.

Beyond this, once I am no longer engaged with the ice control, I walk more freely. Here is mud, pine peat sludge, ridges melted, squelch, and I follow the dog. When she is not sniffing every trace, every track, she is bonhomie. She is my guide. Even without any school training, she is in complete control of her manifold feets. She can skid and correct in the face of any ice challenge. Here she chooses a lift to the left, a change of choice there and I follow her. I know that animals have instincts that we have allowed ourselves to forget. Some places on the track lie frozen, still, silent. Others lift back into exhaling ridges of peat sludge, airy when I tread them, rised, it seems, by frost and then abandoned to their thawing fate. Prints are widening. That big dog is now a wolf. That confident bicycle track the backbone of a Titanoboa. The ground is spreading out, losing definition, becoming a new self, becoming nothing until it reforms into another something.

I love this about life. Something is here, yes, it is here, for I can see it, and then it melts and is gone, and something new comes in its place. Unless we are watching we will miss this. Perhaps we don’t mind the missing, nor the rebirth, but for me, to see it is essential. This is why, despite my eye rolling and my puffs of derision around Adequate Motor Output, I will remain upright for as long as I possibly can and I will keep watching and learning.

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