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Icicles

Christmas Baking and Frost 158Icicles are a stunning winter adornment on buildings, other such structures, rocks and even trees. Many people are fascinated by them; there are now icicle shaped Christmas ornaments, icicle candy, and icicles adorning t-shirts. Icicles are quite simply formed by the freezing of dripping water. An icicle grows by continued water runoff over time.  They’re prism like, having a transparent optical aspect but with round instead of flat, polished surfaces that refract light. This prism like quality may be the reason for the almost magical essence that allure people, child or child-like adults to marvel. On a sunny winter day, icicles drip (which makes for some fun photography), if the day is still and peaceful an observer can hear it splash the ground or an object beneath. The sound of dripping icicles is more intense in late winter as things begin to thaw.

Christmas Baking and Frost 161As a child, I loved to look at icicles on the house, watch them drip in the winter sun. There was enough of an overhang above our large picture window in the living room that I could observe the icicles from there, leaning on the windowsill. They would sparkle and glisten in the afternoon sun.  Like most children, my siblings, cousins and I liked knocking icicles down. (Of course, large icicles can be very dangerous and we had been warned to be careful. However, we only knocked down smaller ones and none of us ever got hurt.) I think we liked the sound of them breaking, or at least I liked the sound. How to describe that sound? It sounds hollow when it breaks, as it hits and shatters it is similar to shattering glass and yet has a very distinct sound of its own. We also liked to pluck them off carefully, trying to keep them whole. The feel of them appealed to me, something about how solid they were and textured yet smooth. There was an excitement about them, the fact that they’re solid ice and we could hold them in our hands. Once broken off, we liked to suck and chew on the ends, the cold refreshing and, at the same time, numbing our mouths.

Christmas Baking and Frost 163Even as an adult, I delight in icicles. Their beautiful crystalline structure still captivates me. My eye is drawn to them, and I still take them in, watching them drip. The way they can transform something plain into something beautiful is almost magical. I don’t usually break them anymore, but prefer to enjoy them adorning the buildings and other structures.

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