Saturday, February 13, 2010

Frozen Over

The Cocheco River, which runs through the town of Dover, New Hampshire, is frozen over. It will stay that way--barring natural disasters and global warming--until sometime in March or April. I've never lived in a place where puddles stayed frozen the entire winter, let alone rivers and lakes larger than Lake Washington.

It's strange to pass over the river and see solid ice, with old snow resting on top. I want, one of these nights, to climb over the guardrail, down the embankment, slide out into the middle of the river, and lay down on the ice, Eternal Sunshine-style. With my luck, the ice wouldn't be solid and I'd fall in, so I might hold off on that one...

This picture, by the way, is not of the Cocheco River. I was not the photographer. It might not even be in New Hampshire, for all I know. Do you really expect me to walk a mile in 20 degree weather, just to take a picture of a damn frozen river?

What has ceased to amaze me is that the world doesn't stop in the wintertime here. The river is frozen over, and the temperature hasn't been above freezing since my return, but people are out. Life moves on, and people buy groceries and go on runs. College students trudge to class and go on drunken walks in the cold. Packages are delivered, and dinner gets made and homework gets done. In this cold, all I want to do is sleep. I want to hibernate away the winter in a cocoon of blankets and pajamas, with a few good books, maybe.

There's a short story by Anthony Doerr called "The Hunter's Wife," and the hunter and his wife trudge into the woods one winter and find a hibernating bear. They touch his fur, and listen to his deep and slow breathing. I imagine if I slept away the winter, someone would come into my apartment and listen to my breath while I waited for the snows and rivers to melt. I think that might be a little more creepy than the Doerr story, though.

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