This morning, a thin layer of ice covers the surface of Wildcat Creek. Leaves and bits of bark are suspended in the ice, caught in time, the moment the temperature reached that point when the magic takes place, and water becomes solid. Robins and wrens skate the surface where it is thickest, finding seeds and bits of forage on this 18 degree morn.
Under the surface, life goes on, and particles or silt and dead leaves drift with the slowed current of deeper water. Somewhere buried deep in the mud there, I'm sure there are crayfish, helgramites, and stonefly larvae, waiting on the water to warm to a more tolerable degree.
Green stalks of dog-hobble are held under the surface, encased by the icy grip of frozen water along the creek bank. Oak and persimmon, and beech trees, now standing in water due to beavers work to slow the flow and flood the banks, are surrounded by ice. A red-bellied sap sucker, pecking away on a river birch, has created a dusting of bark and moss on the ice all around the tree.
Dead fall trees, lying crossways from one bank to the other, have gathered leaves and sticks around them, and now the debris is frozen around them, taking on the appearance of solid ground.
Underneath the muddy banks, spew-ice juts out, pushing the mud to the surface to reveal clusters of crystals coming up out of the ground. Small rocks are caught between the clusters, with the smaller ones being caught up and held in the grip of the frozen fingers.
On that note, as I stand here in the trees and record this in my notebook, my fingers are frozen and not working very well. I'm finding it difficult to hold my pen, and my words are beginning to look like the scrawling of a child. I rub my hands together, and cup them, blowing hot air from deep in my lungs, trying to warm them. As I do this, I am watching finches under a laurel bush, flipping through the leaf litter and broken twigs with their tiny feet. Despite the freezing temperatures, life out here on Wildcat Creek goes on like it always has, and I'm heading back inside to warm up a bit.