The Real Ice-Land

Buried BerriesIcicle TreeGroovy GrassSeemingly Stormy SkyOne night after circus study in Fanta-Se (known to most of the rest of the world as ‘Santa Fe,’ or ‘The City Different’), a friend told me it was only going to get colder, with the currently falling rain beginning to freeze around dawn, and this was going to be my best chance to start heading back east to arrive in time for Channukah as my mom wanted. I had another goal, and that was to attend the ‘Upside-Down Photo Booth’ event at the Sky Candy aerial arts school in Austin. So … I began the journey and as my friend later informed me a weatherman said about that weekend, ‘the temperature fell off a cliff.’ It was at least ten degrees colder than anyone expected, almost immediately. Leaving Albuquerque heading east around midnight, as soon as I got out of the city there was snow … I thought it would end soon, and be fine. Instead, the next four hours were some of the most terrifying of my life, with a very serious accident happening right in front of me — a bright blue, brand new pickup truck hauling something-or-other was in the right lane, the left lane, right and then off the highway completely, saved from turning over more than just onto its side by the whatever-it-was it was hauling. I’d never seen a jack-knifing save somebody’s life before! Luckily, state troopers were stationed regularly with flashing lights so I could report the accident about two minutes later, and then I continued on my way … finally getting to stop in Santa Rosa, the woman who checked me into the hotel said it’s the windchill that makes it so no matter how high you put the heat and defroster on, your windshield can’t be cleared well enough to see through, and a man from Alaska said he’d never seen the weather and visibility so bad up there, with black ice everywhere. It was funny to me and affirming because I’d just been thinking how much this snowfall with ice on the ground was like a TV show I’d seen about ice truckers in Alaska, only this was worse! To know for sure it turned out I was right was a great feeling. The next day the weather was still barely passable and I only made it as far as Yukon, Oklahoma, where someone told me Amarillo, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Tulsa, Oklahoma were the three cities that got the most ice in all of the U.S. Coming into Oklahoma I had seen some billboard stating “Oklahoma. So much to discover,” or something along those lines and I laughed thinking “Yeah, right.” Oh, was I WRONG! I’d heard practically all my life of the beauty of the northeast in the fall, and I knew lots of people went up there to drive around just to see the foliage, and maybe take pictures of it, too … even as far away as Israel I’d heard of the beauty of Vermont, but Oklahoma had never been mentioned to me as any kind of special place to go and the more I drove through it, I wondered why and felt I had been cheated and misled, literally. It was too cold and I was not prepared well enough to take pictures of and document every beautiful thing I saw, but I did take pictures of what I call ‘icicle trees’ glinting in the sunlight, and understood for the first time that many holiday decorations are not made up at all, and actually do come from real-life natural phenomena, although I imagine those were originally seen and turned into home-adorning objects in Europe rather than any place in the ‘New World.’ Not only were the sights enlightening, but also the sounds … when the wind blows through the branches of my new-found icicle tree wonders, there isn’t the sound of rustling leaves but a tinkling, the kind you hear in music … now I know where it comes from as I’ve experienced it myself. It was a life-changing drive, as it turns out, and my reward for going through that danger is now I know an incredible place I’ll be happy to go back to again when I’m better prepared with warmer boots, a thicker longer coat, and anything else I need to withstand the tumbling temperatures so I can show the people who can’t be with me what it is that’s so magical about winter in this barely-spoken-about treasure of north Texas and Oklahoma, U.S. of A.! **  Ashira Malka 18th December, 2013, Rockville, Maryland ☺http://500px.com/ashiramalka/stories/3845968/the-real-ice-land