Two more winter paragraphs

Pleasant Lake, MN

On other March mornings, in softer winters, the wind did not howl and the crystalline flakes rested even on the ground. The lake would still freeze over, but no dunes of blown snow would collect upon its glassy ceiling. Instead, it shone. Wide pools of sunlight gathered on the ice during clear dawns and stayed, only changing gently in color and shape. On those mornings we shaded our eyes in the early glow and never shivered.

*             *               *

I walked up the driveway, into the snow, and up to the lake’s edge. The sun behind was warm on the back of my neck. The hum I had been hearing came from the ice itself. When the air warms at the end of winter, the frozen water shifts and makes a round, low sound, gradually swelling and increasing into spring. Hundred-foot cracks appear in an instant, shooting out across the whitened blue. As it thins, the ageless, clear water below reappears. The ground on which you stand is not at all firm and will not last, but light rushes from all sides to meet you.

A Winter’s Paragraph


There were no blue shadows creeping across the living room by the time I walked through it. Only the grey, pallid haze of a clouded dawn. I stopped and stood there for just a moment. Through the windows I could see skeletal trees and the vacant marble bowl that was the lake when it froze over each winter. Ice fishing houses sat at the other end, scattered and remote like an abandoned mining town. Out there I could see the bitter March wind whipping eastward, lifting snow off of drifts. Somehow, from outside the house, accident and adulthood had caught my sister unaware. We had barely spoken all that winter. The disconnects had become collapses. I felt weak and naive. This new hurt was not of the lake or the lot. A shiver ran up my ribs and along my jaw. I tried to picture Sarah in the car, headed south through the same howling wind, but I failed. All that came was her younger self, wailing in the grass while I stood watching.