Even on a December day, deep in a dense forest, with the winds beating back the trees and grasses, something shines. Through the dark, sometimes impenetrable thicket of trees and bushes, a river flows, blue and strong under the silver cover of ice.
Along the St. Vrain Creek up by Wild Basin this week, the freezing and thawing had created random formations that captivated me. Walking up the road along the creek, I kept stopping to admire each expression of the creek, as if I were in a art gallery, pausing at every painting and sculpture to take it all in.
It had been very cold the week before, freezing the creek. But this week a warming spell had thawed some of the ice, leaving a slight sheen of water on the blue surface. The warming weather had upheaved whole sheets of ice, setting them at conflicting angles.
At the bridge, the water had pooled out into the forest and then froze, creating a small rink, with the tops of pine trees skating on top. The surface was smooth as glass but shimmering with slightly different colors, diffused reflections of the sun in the ice and water, soft, translucent.
The descending sun in the west had found spots where the ice had cracked open, spilling yellow light into the ice-blue cavities. Farther up the creek, the river had pushed a hole in the ice, and around the edge, melting water had dripped down, then frozen, producing a stalk of ice grapes.
These ice sculptures were more beautiful to me than the paintings in the exhibit of French art I had seen recently at the Denver Art Museum, because the ice formations were a work in constant progress. It was a never-ending battle between open water that wants to run unimpeded and the forces of cold that seek to freeze everything in place. In between, at every stage something new and different is created.
Copyright Kathy Kaiser 2013