Do you have ice flowers on your windows? I do, etched by Mother Nature and Mr. Winter, wind and his buddy chill, frigidity and her old friend briskness, rawness and that lesser known irritant, gelidness -- an agglomeration, assemblage, assortment, batch and squad of subzero artistes working in an all too arctic, frosty medium on windows all over town, the county, state and region.
It's what occurs this time of year. As January goes on forever, February lasts even longer and spring hides somewhere down the block or in San Antonio or Houston, Mobile, Ala., or Baton Rouge, La., whiling away the hours on a deck, porch, beach or a wave-riding sailboat, with one sweet cocktail in hand and another waiting in the wings.
While each night at about 6, Momma Nature picks up Mr. Winter, wind picks up chill, briskness picks up frigidity, and rawness catches the bus with gelidness and off to work they go with lunch buckets in hand to create a subzero art gallery from Spokane, Wash. to Sioux Falls, S.D., Grand Forks to Grand Junction, Pierre to St. Paul, Minn. and Helena, Mont. to Hastings, Minn.
They go where sweet moisture meets the glacial glass, the poikilothermal pane and the crisp clean crystal, converting it to a translucent frosty canvas, offering Momma N and her gang a palatial pallet upon which to etch.
At least that's what I thought until the other night when in the middle of the night I heard sounds down below, outside on the street and went down to check it out.
Peeking out the door, dressed only in T-shirt and shorts, with a raw hostile breeze burning my cheeks and forehead, forming goose bumps on my arms and legs, it was then that I saw a petite young woman, with dark hair and porcelain skin, wearing a full-length black fur coat over gray tights, with hands slipped into thin black leather gloves.
She was drawing with just an etching tool touching the window pane, no elbow or hand to smudge or leave evidence and I hopped back inside to put on more garments to further inspect the scene and when I returned, she looked at me with steely blue eyes and then vanished in a second as though she'd never been there and I wondered in my mind if I was asleep and I poked myself but nothing changed.
So I stepped outside and walked briskly down the street, to occasionally slip and slide as snow crunched under my feet. Smoke billowed from above, a rich scent to behold and I heard what sounded a little like the wings of a dove. Then I came to the scene where the petite young girl had been and saw nothing short of magic on glass where only a pane had existed then.
But when I looked at the glass it reminded me of something Vera Nazarian, the science fiction and fantasy writer had written in "The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration:"
"Frost grows on the window glass, forming whorl patterns of lovely translucent geometry.
Breathe on the glass, and you give frost more ammunition.
Now it can build castles and cities and whole ice continents with your breath's vapor.
In a few blinks you can almost see the winter fairies moving in.
But first, you hear the crackle of their wings."
Then I heard the sound of doves again and turned around to see, the petite young lady in the black fur coat holding out a sheet that she apparently meant for me.
I grasped it like a piece of gold and then she disappeared, and on it she'd written in nice freehand a message that at first I thought was weird. It said,
"Then the next night you met me
And I walked with you to your car
It was really cold outside
And you were parked out pretty far
So I hugged my coat much tighter
And I tried to pass the time
By admiring how your shadow looked
Walking next to mine
Then we made it to the car
And both quickly hopped inside
And even as I spoke to you
Your true self you did hide
So I tried to make you laugh
And I think it went OK
But still I hope you come to like me more
With every passing day."
There is magic in winter.
Holten is freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.