i finally dug up the nerve to go out into the ice last night. the rain had stopped and there was just a sifting of snow dancing in the air. the sky was indigo with pale smears of clouds and a handful of stars peering through. just a rabbit’s breath of a breeze had come up and there was a patter of ice falling from the trees onto the crust below.

in the beam of my headlamp, weeds and branches were a fantasy of diamond, clusters of fairy wands poking up out of the hard snow.

the pattering turned into a cracking and whooshing as the trees flexed to shed their heavy loads. a steady rain of shards and pebbles came down, the smaller ones sliding and bouncing and swirling when they hit, the larger ones punching jagged holes into the shining expanse of ice.

i decided it was safe to shovel off the deck. i had left a dusting of snow on it the night before to give some traction when the rain started to fall. the wide blade of the shovel dug under the wet ice: crunch, crunch, CRUNCH, BOOM! slither as i eased the growing pile of ice shards across the deck and over the edge, small pieces skittering across the yard until stopped by friction.

when i was done, i took a seat on the bench on the west side and listened to the percussion of the aftermath of ice: branches screaming, the whoosh of shedding snow, the crack of broken limb and shattered ice, like the footfalls of prehistoric predators, dire wolves in the darkness, stalking mastodon through the winter taiga.

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