At the market the other day, someone walked out onto the ice on the river, with a kid trailing behind. It was a controversial move—just hearing about it made me unable to breathe.
The week before, someone had seen a fox way out on the river ice, in the middle of the day. What was that fox doing? Fishing? looking for birds? for fresh water?
The ice on the Hudson River holds my attention and imagination every winter. I think of my grandma ice fishing in a little shack in Minnesota; of the woman I met in Hudson (the town) running across the icy Hudson (the river) every morning to the factory where she worked, scared of the cracking and groaning, but crossing nonetheless; of the scene in The Shipping News when the house is dragged across the sea-ice from an island to the mainland of Newfoundland's coast, and cabled there to keep from blowing away; of stories of my dad delivering ice, huge cubes, lifted with big, sharp tongs. And current events, too: the Newburgh-Beacon Ferry being unable to cross the river; bald eagle and seal sightings; dogs and men falling through the ice and drowning in Central Park.At a dinner party a few nights ago people were talking about harvesting river ice, and keeping it in sawdust to use in iceboxes the following summer. Indeed, harvesting river ice used to be a major industry in the Hudson Valley. I don't know about the big tongs, or the conveyor belts of huge cubes, but we could notice this ice, this snow, and use this natural resource locally, on a small scale.
I did live in a New J. apartment for a winter with no refrigerator, and hung my food out the second story windows in bags to keep cold. That, and floating a six pack in a stream, are the closest I've come to using winter for cold storage, but I'm thinking on it. The wintergreens root cellar half counts, since it's moderated at an above-freezing temperature.*Photos courtesy of Boat Nerd, China Daily, and Tessa Lau.