Nature Wisdom

With Pat Tuholske


Pondering Pond Ice


We are blessed with an enchanted pond.  Its woodland setting is embellished with a sunset bench and a quaint rowboat.   A walk down to the pond is part of my daily routine and I often feel as if I am visiting the legendary Celtic Pool of Wisdom – a portal to the Otherworld where spiritual knowledge flows forth from that world to ours.  Each season holds a new lesson or stunning spectacle.   Spring Peepers hail the return of warm spring nights.  In high summer, Great Blue Heron can be seen spearing fish.  The sheer beauty of the overhanging blaze of color reflected in the water on a bright autumn day brings a tear to my eye.

As winter deepens, the surface undergoes daily transformation with the plunging temperatures.  Every morning I hurry to study the artwork created in the frigid night before it is claimed by the Sun.  Each dip in the thermometer brings different patterns captured in ice.  Fractals appear with the freezing and thawing to record the language of nature through infinitely repeating geometric patterns.  As the cold temperatures intensify, sharp linear puzzles blossom into fascinating and complex nature art.

When the wind spends the night tossing ice droplets across the surface, tiny crystalline sculptures appear.  These ice fairy palaces reveal the hidden world of the spirit of ice and, if you look closely, you can catch a glimpse into their realm.

Skipping a stone across the frozen surface on a “thin ice day” releases the quavering voice of the ice.  As the ice begins to recede from the shoreline on a “bright Sun day” it sings in booming deep tones.  When the dogs happen onto the frozen edge, the ice calls out like a breathing gong.

After a week of single digit temperatures, I summon up the courage to venture out to test the security of the frozen surface.  I stick to the shallows looking and listening for cracks in case I’ve misjudged.  Nightmares of falling through pond ice give me prudent respect for the seemingly solid surface.

No warning of danger so I take cautious light steps and begin to explore the surface, walking on what is a fluid liquid surface during other seasons.  I summon my courage and, step by step, find myself in the very center.  I hold my breath, stand tall and try out my new surroundings.  From this perspective, the sky looks bigger and I feel small and quite humble.  As I wander the center, I begin to feel more secure and grace descends.  I twirl and spin, slide and laugh as I express the magical beauty of my dance with ice.

Pulling from my pockets the stones, acorns and dried flowers I’ve brought, I create my own piece of nature art here in the center.  I offer my gift in celebration of my yearly ritual of walking on ice.  Being born in winter, I feel the strength of my own inner fire burning most brightly when ice grips nature.   I consider our frozen pond a source of wisdom and inspiration.  It makes me feel thankful to be alive and aware in the depth of winter to witness the mysterious splendor of our natural world.

Check out Pat Tuholske’s journal “Nature as Healer” for musings on the Human-Nature relationship.  Go to elementalearthcamp.com. Pat is the facilitator of Elemental Earthcamp  “off the grid” eco-camp and shamanic retreat in the Missouri Ozarks.