Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hard Water

Hard water, rich in calcium and magnesium, is the kind of water you buy an expensive machine to chemically change so you can use the water in your home and not damage the pipes or the applicances.  But there is another kind of hard water and the hardness is not necessarily in its chemistry but rather in its physics. This kind of hard water comes in different forms from tiny stinging pellets that fall from the sky to clumps the size of baseballs that can injure and even destroy to sheets that coat other physical objects turning them into strange shapes.

In early January 2014 this kind of hard water covered much of the eastern and southeastern regions of the US, transforming extensive areas into slippery, dangerous places. The danger is the pragmatic aspect of this kind of hard water while the sculptures created by freezing are the aesthetic even artistic expression of the altered reality of water.  The forms that ice takes can be staggering in their strange and cold beauty.  The ice redefines reality turning it into something different but still reminiscent of other times, of warmer times.

Reality is not quite as fixed when things turn to ice. Water oozing from seeps and springs, that once dripped from rocky faces, becomes translucent steps of icy stalagmites. Waterfalls freeze in from the margins transformed into increasingly thin ribbons. And rivers, thousands of miles from the frozen Arctic and Antarctic host new islands of moving blocks…of ice. And reality is redefined.

Perhaps the most fascinating icy redefinition of reality occurs when the limbs and twigs of winter grey trees and shrubs become coated with sometimes shimmering and often translucent crystal coatings. Fascinating that is unless the coating becomes to thick and another kind of hard reality reveals itself.