This image is from last year. We (D, his father and stepmother, and my brother) hired a well-furnished cabin beside a pond, in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. On Christmas day we walked out onto the middle of the pond. I’d never done that before, walked on solid ice. How risky and enlivening an experience.
You are forced to walk slowly, to look at the strange ground beneath you, down into the layers of suspended water root and bubbles. Hush your white pluming breath to listen for the sound of cracking. There is always a part of the pond cracking a little at the tension. Yet you keep progressing, desiring to see how far out you can make it. The air is so clear and crisp and still. Through the saplings at the shore you can see the chimney of the cabin, the grey smoke skeining upwards. Your eye follows it. Snow coming soon.
And when you make it back, you take a hot chocolate to the fire, and give yourself time to reflect. It takes longer to process what you did, the foolishness and bravery of it, and what you found out there on the ice.