This morning I abandoned the piles on my desk, pulled on my big green boots, and went for a hike in my woods. Usually this time of year, I need snowshoes but an unnaturally warm January melted all of December's snow. And temperatures that hover just above freezing have created thin, intricately patterned layers of ice on all the puddles and ponds that cover my land.
When the sun came out, the puddles became strangely beautiful. Patches of dark water would reflect treetops and bits of sky, while the whole pattern was crisscrossed with slashes of ice. As I stared into a puddle, I could move my head or shift position, and the whole pattern of sky and tree branch would shift like a kaleidescope.
By the time I reached the grove of hemlocks, temperatures were rising, and the thin layer of ice was melting, as was the ice in the hemlock trees. Drops of water fell from branches onto the calm surface of each puddle, creating swirls and distortions in the puddle pictures as I watched.
I spent a wonderful hour tramping about in the woods, crashing through thin layers of ice, loving the sound of that brittle breaking, splashing through puddles of icy cold water, and mostly – staring into puddles, each one a mysterious pool of strangely shifting colour.