Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter Kaleidoscope

There is more ice on Deer Creek than usual. Long tear drop shaped blocks of ice stretch in eddys behind rocks, and thin ropy channels of open water separate one slab from the other. The water looks murky from the surface, but we haven’t had any rain. I sit on the edge of the ice shelf and ley my feet dangle in the water. They are cold instantly. I slip into the water careful not to get swept downstream, and under an ice sheet. The water is cloudy and I can barely make out the bottom. It was a lot of work getting geared up for an ice snorkel, and the poor visibility is disappointing. Then I realize the water is murky with ice. It was like snorkeling through a slushy. Things started to come into view as I cleared the congregation of ice that swirled in the eddy currents. There were fewer ice chunks in the stronger flow, and the bottom came into focus. Northern case maker caddis sand grain cases cover the lee of boulders, behind over wintering patches of rock weed. The smooth cylindrical steel blue cases of humpless case maker caddisflys are intertwined with the rock weed on the tops of the boulders. They have sealed the openings of their tubes. Orange, green, metallic slate blue, and white all mix and bend and wave in the current in a kaleidoscope of winter life and color. Ice glows blue in the background. I am glad I didn’t give up when I first put my face in the water and say murk. I am glad I didn’t follow my original assumption that nothing was here on this frozen day. Ecology is always here. We just need to open our eyes to see it.

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