It has been an absolutely stunning week to be living on the banks of the Delaware. As Spring temperatures have begun to break the bitter winter, the ice pack covering the river has started to break up. The ice itself was beautiful, but the remnants even more so 1. The icebergs bobbing on the surface of the suddenly blue expanse fill me with both calm and wonder. Along the banks stranded chunks of ice remain as a testimony to the forces which forged the winter landscape.
Most people don’t think of rivers this way, but the Delaware is tidal 2. The cycle doesn’t change when ice forms on its surface. As the water rises and falls, the ice sheets bend and crack into large chunks. The current then moves the ice into random patterns, and the different chunks are forced either up or down on each other. The friction produces heat, which causes some melting, and then the cold temperatures re-freeze the collided mass. Over the course of weeks, the ice becomes deep. While the surface will typically show a series of jagged edges and cracks, and sometimes huge “ice boulders” will even rise to the surface, no surface feature demonstrates the chaos below the surface.
Once the waters recede, however, the secrets of the ice are exposed to the world. Instead of a smooth ice-cube like we’d put in a drink, the river ice is made up of a amalgamation of frozen, crushed, melted, and refrozen chunks of water. It looks painful, and the remnants of the repeated destruction the ice experienced are evident in it’s twisted form, but the results are undeniably beautiful.
Sometimes I wonder if our lives are like the river ice. Beautiful and strong, but bearing the scars of past traumas nonetheless. Once thing is certain, as the unpredictable tide of life impacts us we can never remain unchanged.