A Cold Sheet of Ice


Aki doesn’t want to be here. She’d rather be back on the trail that splits a thick patch of wild roses. But morning sunlight bouncing off new ice has pulled me onto the grass flats drained by Fish Creek. The little dog followed, mincing her way over thin sheets of ice that started forming from salt and fresh water at high tide.


Mountains, a glacier, and birds normally grab all my attention during walks on the Fish Creek delta. But with the north wind making the 15 degree temperature chill like a number well below zero, we find the usual suspects—crows, gulls, and eagles—hunkered on the ground or in trees beyond my view. Aki passes within 15 feet of a murder of crows that ignore her. The birds take flight when I inadvertently cross their privacy line but land a few meters down the beach. Is it because she is dressed in a pink insulated number that warms her and challenges my manhood?


My mind and camera turned toward the grass flats, now covered with a shinny white blanket that has molded itself to the land. In most places, the new ice flattens the underlying grass. But strands with more tensile strength break through the surface. Some force—wind or water current—has caused the ice to mimic the patterns used by the Japanese painter Hokusai to form The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. The tide is still retreating, allowing unsupported ice to slump and shatter. Aki and I are surprised by the sound of the wind scattering some of the shards over the white plain.




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