In front of me, beyond the large picture window at the front of Cardigan Mountain Lodge, a fine precipitation fell purposefully onto the largely unblemished early season snow. Behind me a low fire crackled in the fireplace, its heat warming my back even as my face sensed the chill from the other side of the glass.

Though only the second of December, the mountain had already been graced with nearly twenty inches of snow, its depth easily visible as a pure, thick layer on the tops of picnic tables and benches, stream boulders and sign posts, and the roof of the lodge, whose eaves had not been shoveled. Yesterday’s sun had had little impact: the hard-pack of the parking lot was still icy, and the snow still clung to pine boughs, bending them in reverence to the coming season.

Still, the sun had done some work. Icicles had begun to form in a jaggy line of silvery spindles all along the edge of the roof overhanging my window. Not yet imposing, neither did they resemble the fragile, web-like “icicle lights” strung up along the soffits of the suburban houses back home. No mere ornaments, these seemed organic, begotten of the sun and snow, to become ice and to grow and to take on forms, no one like any other. There were spires and spears and squat little nubs waiting their chance. One formation was delicate, its small icicles evenly spaced like tines on a crystalline fork. Another pointed menacingly downward, a rawboned witch’s finger thrust from an icy fist. Directly in front of me a cluster had grown out from a small ice-mass, a trinity of crystal steeples reaching down to an inverted heaven.

I sat at that window for a long time, squinting at what was falling from the sky, listening for a faint tick-tick-tick against the window in hopes for sleet and not rain. It was mostly mist, and I watched it sheen over the icicles, then gather on each of their tips to be released, drop-by-drop, into the winter air. Water to water. I don’t know whether or not the icicles I watched were being born or dying, growing or shrinking. Were those drops gathering at their tips tears shed over a short life? I don’t know and no matter: what a blessing to witness their changing shapes at that moment of neither beginning nor ending, but of just being.

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