I delayed my drive to work this morning, one in a series of days when the the mercury has stayed below freezing. We had open water on our lakes and ponds during the last snow, which means that the first ice of the year will not have to be shoveled for skating.
There is a small pond in our neighborhood, choked with weeds in summer and slowly constricting from its shore in cattail and invasive giant reed, but it comes into its own after a hard freeze. There is also a street light that is trained on the pond and makes it suitable for night skating.
I walked down to the edge, where there is still a discernible break in the dry stalks between the shore and the open ice. I saw it was already thick, with a filigree of hard frozen black ice here and there on the milky surface. There were no clumps of frozen snow, no cracked bubbles of thin ice. Just hard, slick, level pond ice, unmarred yet by any blade.
Tonight I have a meeting to attend, but when I get home, with the kids all toasty and ready for bed, I will roust them and bundle them and fill their thermos with cocoa. We will drive under the cold clear stars to the pond below the baseball field named for the native son who rose like a skyward arrow and fell to earth just as precipitously over less than three years in the Majors. We will stagger and glide and slip and spin, rediscovering balance on our blades. This can't wait for tomorrow, for then it may snow. Fresh ice is ephemeral, and the moment is here and now.