These last few weeks of winter have been all about the ice. A little snow, then rain, then plunging temperatures. The cycles of freeze thaw create lots of illusions, keep me off balance. Even with grass showing through on the way to the woods, I enter wearing crampons. Thin and thick and sculptural and granular, the ice is always there. It forms new edges for snow to collect in the water.
It begins to cover as a thin crust like the top of a creme brûlée, transparent still to the flow of below.
Then it eventually thickens and forms deep slabs of protection for the precious resource that we can no longer see. The thickness becomes a kind of still support, a way to safely move from one side to another on foot, across an otherwise impassable expanse.
I went on a first meet/date with a man a few weeks ago during a particularly cold snap. We decided to meet at a lake located between the two of us, to ‘walk on water’ and enjoy the gorgeous sunny cold day. He actually went to check it out before we met, assured me there were men out in the middle ice fishing, dogs running after a sled, activity to indicate there was an adequate layer of ice to support us. I arrived with my crampons and he arrived with a sled. As we started to walk I suspended whatever disbelief I had that this was a good idea. I was charmed by his seeming confidence. Within minutes he spontaneously suggested I get in the sled and he would pull me! My insides jolted awake. I politely but firmly said no. We kept walking, noting the group of men in peripheral vision making a party of their fishing expedition, watching Nora dash off ahead, chatting lightly but with the caution of unknown. It wasn’t until we were literally out in the middle of the lake when we heard the first ‘crack’ of an almost invisible and impossible sound given the clear and adequate thickness of ice we were walking on. It spooked him. He admitted that he had never done this before. With thinly veiled bravado, he turned and suggested we walk back to shore.
Where he got the idea that being pulled across a frozen expanse in a sled might be fun, or even romantic, is a curiosity. Why he thought I would trust yielding to him after just ten minutes rather than to the energy of flow below the ice that I have felt all my life is even more curious. It’s amazing what you can learn about a person in a very short period of time. Whether it was his intention or not, I felt rushed.
One of my favorite movies is ‘Being There’ starring Peter Sellars. I am always amazed at that scene at the end of ‘Chauncy Gardner’ with cane in hand, walking on water, of doing what is thought to be impossible. He breaks through the illusion that his slowly simple direct way of perceiving the world is some sort of personal limitation. Everyone around him is able to realize something dramatic and important about how they participate in life. His gift is the ability to simply state the obvious. He has no need to rush, or to feel rushed, about anything.
This past weekend was a spring teaser, balmy sixty degree temps and warm sun. The thick slabs of ice along the edge of brooks have now been pushed aside by the flow asserting itself once again.
It is an intoxicating sound, the rush of flowing water.
Water moving so fast that it has become impassable once again without obvious intent.
I made chocolate macaroons** when I got home. Seemed like a good way to celebrate feeling the flow in such a joyous way once again. After months of not baking much of anything, it felt good to indulge where I go when I want something sweet.
This version is Martha Stewart meets Bob’s Red Mill. Chewy, intensely chocolately, easy and gluten free.
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
Beat egg whites and salt until almost stiff.
Pour melted chocolate into a large bowl; add cocoa, sugar, coconut, egg whites, almond extract. Mix with your hands until well combined.
Dampen clean hands with cold water. Mound 1 1/2 tablespoons mixture into a loose haystack shape on lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, arranging macaroons 1 inch apart.
Bake until just firm to the touch but still soft in the middle, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack. Store in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 3 days.