I drove by the pond today because the air was nearly calm and I hoped to shoot some reflections. I parked the car at the south side of the park and began walking towards the water. It was a surprise to find a thin skim of ice across the whole of the pond. Two nights in the teens began to give the pond its winter wear.
Saturday morning we dipped to 15°. Last night we plunged to 11° and the pond responded in kind. I think of the fish beneath there, under that crystalline surface, trapped now for months, insulated from air. I think of the frogs and snakes, too, carefully drawn into winter mud, somewhere along the edges, impervious to cold, already deep in winter sleep.
The sky is winter-blue today though the calm air and temperatures into the mid-30's made the day fairly pleasant. But where I hoped to see a surface of calm water, there is now thin, rough-cut ice.
As with the ice in the field, this ice is punctuated by triangles. My late day visit placed the sun low and behind me and brought the surface into deeper relief. I do not remember so many geometrics in the past. It is an artifact of the freezing process, I am sure, and yet I don't remember it quite this same way. Surely it depends on the day I visit, how deeply the ice has formed?
As I walk, the grass sinks into the wet soil. I cannot stand long at one spot or I would sink into water. The top surface is frozen but to very little depth and it will not hold my weight. So I step gingerly along, not spending too much time in any spot, advancing forward before the water pulls me down.
This first freeze is not so noisy as the first thaw but it is equally startling. The view changes almost overnight. If we thought winter comes slowly this year, that rain stands in for snow, we are also reminded of the inexorable flow of the seasons. The sun is bright but low. The calendar merely teases us. Both tell me it is almost winter. Get used to it.
Added 12/12/11: Just a day later and there's a few breaks in the ice. The water again reflects a few cedars as the temperature today made it up to 42°.