ONCE UPON A TIME, which is longer ago than I care to admit, I welcomed winter. Snow equated outdoor fun on the farm of my youth in southwestern Minnesota. Prairie winds swept the snow into rock-hard mountainous drifts around buildings and windbreaks. My siblings and I pulled on our winter gear and for hours played atop those mountains and the snow piles mounded by Dad with the bucket of his tractor.
And then there were the icicles hanging along the milkhouse roof. Those became swords for hard-fought battles against one another. Ice clashing against ice until a sword, or both, broke. Somehow we avoided poking out each other’s eyes.
I found those icicles, some the length of our torsos, magical. They appeared seemingly overnight, glistening in the sunlight, water frozen clear and beautiful.
Likewise, I felt the same about ice patches that formed on field’s edge. To slide across that ice in my buckle overshoes proved freeing and powerful. I was a champion figure skater in my own imaginative world. When the ice rink opened in my hometown of Vesta in the shadow of the grain elevator, I donned my Aunt Dorothy’s hand-me-down skates and raced from one end to the other, flying like the fierce prairie wind.
Today I no longer skate or engage in sword fights. Rather I approach ice with the cautiousness of a Baby Boomer who’d rather not break a bone. I avoid ice if possible.
But there’s an exception. Ice sculptures. These are a thing of beauty, reminding me of long ago ice ponds and ice swords and my once-love of ice. Artists who can carve a block of ice into something magical and beautiful garner my appreciation. That includes the team from Sakatah Carvers, Signs and Creations, who recently sculpted a teddy bear inside a stocking for Faribault’s Winterfest.
While I didn’t witness the actual creation of the ice sculpture, I saw the warmly-dressed crew packing up their gear afterwards. It takes a love of winter and of ice to engage in this art form, which recalls for me prairie winters past of snow and ice.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling