Ice. There is ice on my windshield this morning and I carve a tiny peephole out of it with what water remains in an old water bottle in the back of the truck. The three tenths of a mile to the end of the driveway ought to be enough to warm the truck up enough to melt the rest of it. I drive bent over and craning to see the twin ruts leading east. Gorram ice.
It was 2004 or 2005 when the pond was last full, when we had a lot of wet weather, and oh by the way, that was also the last time I built a metal shed on the concrete slab in the back of the back yard. The water got a foot deep onto the shed, and now that I have a new one, it’s heading in that direction. One day as I was leaving for work, I spooked a deer that had come in close to get away from the hunters and as she ran down the driveway, she cut towards the pond, splashing my truck with water. The water on the windshield froze almost instantly it was so cold, and as it crystallized I wondered how many people on earth was, at that very moment, watching water splashed by a deer freeze into tiny beautiful patterns on glass.
When I worked in Surveys, I was riding in the back of the van, not listening to my supervisor’s nonstop rants against the various multitudes of people unlike himself when I noticed a hawk gliding towards the top of a utility pole. The wind was blowing hard that day, and the hawk was flying into it, and he let the wind lift him, nearly stall him, float him right above the top of the pole, where he seemed suspended in time for a fraction of a second, then he abruptly folded his wings, and dropped the final two or three inches.
A Luna moth was dying, it was late Summer, and the Alapaha River was still flooded, rushing over the metal workbridge we had put in. The fist span of the workbridge was still dry, and I liked to eat my lunch there, feeling the power of the river, listing to the sound of the water rushing over steel and itself. There was a pool, a still place on the Southern edge of the workbridge, where the water slowly circulated. I would throw tiny pieces of wood in the eddy, and wonder how long it would take them to spin out, or if they would just stay in the current. Pieces of bread tossed in brought flashes of silver as fish hit them. I picked the moth up and wondered if there might be a way to save it, to somehow succor it from its fate. The moth rose up, flew in a tight spiral, and then crashed into the still water of the eddy. It lay there, floating, then was hit from below, and it its panic, began flapping its wings, and for just a second or two, I could see it as the moth swam underwater, then another flash of silver, and it was gone.
I cannot remember why I was there, or where it was, exactly, but I do remember eating a ham sandwich, on a dock, and I think it was Lake Seminole. I was tossing bread into the clear water, and minnows fought for it. They were rather large minnows with large scales on their heads, like armor plating. I threw in a piece of ham, and suddenly a very small turtle game barreling in. I watched it approach, from underwater, and I was amazed at how keen its sense of smell must have been to smell the ham. This was no slow and ponderous turtle, but an agile and spry carnivore, moving in for a kill. There was much grace in the way it navigated around some dead tree limbs in the water, and unerringly, its nose led it to a meal. The minnows scattered, and I shared my lunch with the turtle, watch it expertly swim its way to each offering.
I wish I didn’t remember the orange legged spider, but I do, and I will forever. Sykes Mill Road is a tiny road, but we were putting in a culvert there, many years ago. I was watching an orange-legged spider walk across the water, flitting across the surface like an ice skater. I had never seen a water spider with orange markings, and I wondered if this was some new species, or perhaps one indigenous to this region, and suddenly a rock landed on top of it. The guy I was working with had absently tossed a rock in the water and crashed directly on top of the spider. Maybe it was the look on my face, maybe he really didn’t mean to do it, but he tried to laugh it off, as if it were an accident, but I hated him for killing the spider. One of the orange marked legs drifted downstream, and for some reason I felt as if this was an accusation of some sort, against me. I never quite got over this, and yes, it’s petty, and it’s worse than that because in 2003, the man killed himself with a gun. Perhaps if I have forgiven him the little things, he would have, too.
As the ice melted on the windshield a deer ran back into the woods from the other side of the pond, and I wonder if it was the same one from years ago. They stay close to my house because the mutts are penned up, and I do not shoot at the deer. I try to maintain peace with the creatures of the earth, in as much as I can. I have no idea why these moments I’ve shared have stuck with me, but they have, and I am a better person for it, I think.