I abhor ice—underfoot, that is. It is a loathsome beast that feeds upon my vulnerabilities, senses my unsuspecting nature and seizes each and every opportunity to torture me. Often publicly. Until recently, I suppose I had forgotten just how greatly I detest the frozen miserableness that currently defines my world (i.e. the massive and merciless patches of tundra-gone-wild, slickening my driveway, my sidewalks, my lawn, my EVERYTHING). Then again, cracking one’s head upon the pavement (thanks to yet another cussed ice event coupled with an overly exuberant dog) tends to refresh one’s memory. No doubt, seeing stars served to further enhance my recollection of the hatred I feel toward this abominable aspect of winter.
Needless to say, I felt humiliated, too, wallowing there like a child in a pool of self-pity. Victimized. Insulted. Defeated. Lord knows the god of ice and snow came and conquered that day; mocking my misfortune, applauding my hurt, exacerbating my agony, cackling uproariously—indeed, thoroughly amused by my frantic and futile attempts to flap and flail myself back to the Land of Upright. To the place where my dignity was defended, my equilibrium restored and my composure, conserved. Where surefootedness was a given and where the coefficient of friction was friend, not foe.
That being said, the ruthless monster of which I speak plays no favorites. No one enjoys immunity. Anyone and anything that answers to gravity is capable of suffering the wrath of a frictionless environment—anywhere, anytime under the appropriate climatic conditions. In windswept parking lots. At bus stops and mailboxes galore. In lawns, sinfully glaciated and hopelessly impassable. And in sun-starved alleys, wrinkled and rutted with an impenetrable glaze of solid ice. Grok!
And let us not forget the drudgery, tedium and exhausting nature of ridding our worlds of said vileness. As I type this, every molecule of my entire being now throbs with pain as a result of hacking and hammering and chipping away at that which can only be described as a brutal and unforgiving entity—never mind, one that is seemingly devoid of any meaningful function. I mean really, what purpose does the aforementioned serve? I can think of none.
Quite frankly, my view hasn’t changed on the topic much since the fifth grade. Hated it then. Hate it now. Mostly, this stance stems from having been imprisoned by it one blustery day when asked to take out the trash. The traumatic experience unfolded thusly: The can itself (an incinerator, actually) was poised at the precipice of a rather steep, luge-like gradient behind our house. Naturally, every stinking speck of earth surrounding said incinerator was coated in a thick, glacier-like sheet of ice. Fool that I was, I failed to heed the warning signs that any half-brained nitwit would readily note. Like, “Geez, this looks pretty slippery—and there’s a FREAKING CLIFF on the other side of this Slope from Hell. Maybe I should take the stinking trash back inside and hoard it till March.”
But no. Common sense had evaded me yet again and my can-do attitude catapulted me far beyond the realm of stupidity. As I skidded down the hill at warp speed I had to have been thinking how dumb this had all been—and how entirely preventable. Needless to say, it was a long time before I came to rest and was able to assess the damages. And there were plenty. But the biggest problem I faced was not being able to climb back up the silly hill—which was getting slicker and slicker as the sun started to set. I recall pawing and clawing at the ice and searching around for sturdy sticks I could jam into its glassy surface in order to inch my way to the top. Of course, no one knew I had fallen. And cell phones were decades away.
In all honesty, I don’t remember exactly what eventually led to my successful assent that day (ideally positioned saplings, maybe?), but it certainly was a life lesson. Simply put, I learned that ice is not nice—which would have been a useful bit of information to have prior to the onset of my dimwittedness.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel