¬†¬†¬†¬† When I awoke the other morning, I realized that¬†perhaps for¬†the third time in a couple of weeks, a layer of ice covered¬†everything in sight.¬† So outside I went.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† As usual, I was drawn first¬†to the upper deck’s railing to see how¬†the next ridge and the long, green valley in between would look this morning.¬†¬†Striations of misty clouds stretched along the valley,¬† obscuring all but thin, green¬†lines of the¬†distant ridge.¬†¬†Soft, greenish¬†mounds peeked¬†over the top cloud¬†layer.¬†¬†Soon the striations thinned, and more mountain¬†green emerged.
¬†¬†¬†¬† The moment I stepped into the driveway, a sudden, sharp¬†whir in the leaves¬†caught¬†my attention.¬† I turned quickly to see a grouse¬†dart from the ground¬†up into¬†the trees.¬† Darn!¬† Will I ever spot a grouse before it spots me?¬†¬†I long¬†to¬†see a grouse when it’s nestled¬†on¬†the ground somewhere.¬† But I have never seen one except when it was ‘running away.’¬†¬†Although a large bird, the grouse is well-camouflaged with its¬†mottled¬†brown feathers.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† I walked a little farther¬†up the driveway, then¬†stood and looked.¬† The¬†holly tree’s leaves¬†were longer¬†than usual.¬† Accentuating the¬†tip each green leaf was¬†a hanging, frozen drop, shining¬†and clear.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† A few steps on I saw, as I’d expected, that the tall bamboo stalks¬†lining¬†that section of the driveway were bent way over under¬†their weight of ice.¬† I almost laughed as I noticed¬†a little icicle on¬†one stalk that¬†didn’t¬†seem to respect the law of gravity.¬† This¬†icicle¬†came straight out from the bowed bamboo, parallel with the ground for¬†about a half-inch,¬†then¬†veered down, a glassy little¬†elbow.¬† Hmmm.¬† This icicle must have begun to form when the bamboo stalk¬†stood upright.¬† But as the bamboo bent,¬†the icicle bent too, as it¬†continued toward the ground.¬†¬†¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬† Having surveyed the scene near the house, I decided to walk a little.¬† The brown oak leaves that had been blown into piles along the¬†little dirt road above the house crunched beneath my feet.¬† But how different these January leaves felt¬†than they had in October.¬† This crunching¬†came from the breaking and splintering¬†of an¬†icy veneer¬†coating the leaves.¬†¬†Stiff with¬†cold and wet, the leaves bent and cracked under my feet,¬†making a¬†satisfying wintry sound.–April Moore