Ice Watch

The other day I went to inspect a few vernal pools I like to skate on in the winter. All summer the pools were dry and dusty. I was worried this year there wouldn’t be enough water to make a decent sized rink, but a recent epic rainfall fixed that. A favorite pool is now filled to its regular amount, and since then the many white oak leaves resting on the surface have settled to the bottom leaving a glassy reflection of the trees that bend around it. Cold temperatures have come and left the water punctured in fractals. The first ice is mesmerizing–the patterns are like feathers, graceful and arcing yet still managing to be geometric.

Hudson Valley weather has predicted an average winter for temperature and snowfall. Down in the basement my skates hang from hooks, and below them rest my snowshoes and newly rented cross-country skis. There wasn’t any snow last year, and renting the skis felt like a gamble. As I watch the ice form on our little vernal pools, praying for ice, the arctic is slowly melting and turning into another place. It’s surreal, the only word I can grasp at, to read such devastating news and feel so powerless against this shift. We need to change, and we needed that change yesteryear. So, I do what I can, and wait for the ice, so I can glide on its surface and feel the weight of the world lift.


If you wanted to know more about vernal pools, you could read Swampwalker’s Journal by David M. Carroll. This page has some quick information on vernal pools in NY.

What is the Doomsday Clock going to be in 2021?? Sometimes you just have to jump into the morass feet first.

The Arctic needs our help. But, to be honest, it’s probably too late.

Rock and Snow in New Paltz rents cross-country skis for the season. Do you feel lucky?


  1. I didn’t know you could rent x-skis for a season, how cool! And yes, I saw the terrible Arctic news the other day, too; surreal is a good word. 😦

  2. As a kid my Dad would take us to our cottage on a lake in Michigan in the winter. Sometimes the ice would be like glass. My brother and I would get a blanket and use it as a sail to fly across the lake on our skates! We would tack back and do it over and over. In the shallow areas you could see to the bottom. Our dog would go crazy trying to get to the fish. I doubt the lake freezes hard enough to do that anymore.

    1. What a great memory! When I was a kid, we had a pond in our neighborhood that everyone would gather at to skate on. I wonder if it still freezes over too–probably not enough to skate on.

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