Skip to content

Mother Nature’s Ice Castles

February 24, 2022

Mother Nature’s Ice Castles

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

                Of my more than three decades of winters in Wisconsin, this winter of 2021-22 has seemed, to me, the least harsh.  Nevertheless, I imagined that Mother Nature would eventually have something to remind us Wisconsinites  of her wintry force and artistry.  On that numerically special day of 2-22-22, many in the Milwaukee area awoke to a view of our outside world coated with a glistening, thick layer of ice. 

                Mother Nature definitely got carried away with her ice palette and brushes.  I cannot recall the prior time we had such a thorough covering of ice.  While initially the temperatures were warm enough for the salt compounds to melt the ice on the well-traveled and well-salted streets, Not only were my front porch, stairs, handrails, sidewalk, my “garden-ian angel, aluminum bench and tables coated with ice, the brick wall on the east side of my porch was amazingly covered with a very even coating of Mother Nature’s frozen touch. 

In the area behind my townhouse, besides the usual ice atop the ledge of the deck, the sidewalk and the little fence around the rock area had a substantial plastering of ice; the rock area appeared like a snow cone or like popcorn  layered with ice.  Fortunately, my Leader Dog Willow and I could gain a little more traction on the bumpy ice-incrusted rocks.  What truly gave me the sense of an ice castle was that the wooden wall between my area and my neighbor’s was just like an ice wall, as was the brick wall on the east side of the rocks.  How Mother Nature does give us her frozen artistry to admire!

                When there is not such a wealth of ice, but merely patches on the sidewalk, Willow, my eight-and-a-half-year-old guide dog, is absolutely wonderful about stopping before an ice patch.  Then, she will not go forward until I examine the icy area ahead, praise her with “Ice alert, good girl” or “Ice, what a good Willow!” followed by the forward command.  Trusting that she will find these ice patches for me makes our winter walks much more pleasant.  Since I have walked these routes for so many years with my four Leader Dogs, I tend to know where ice patches are likely to occur; of course, at times, we may encounter one in an unexpected spot.  I think Willow is in very serious working mode when ice is around because she accepts her praise with happiness, but not the exuberance of other times. 

                Similarly, when we have water puddles in our path, Willow makes certain that I also am aware of the puddles,  She stops; sometimes, I have to encourage her to move closer to the issue with the “Hup up” suggestion.  After I check out the depth and width of the puddle with my boot or shoe, we either carefully proceed, go around the puddle, or do a U-turn to take a different route to our destination.  I like to say:  “Puddle alert!  Good dog!”

                On the ice-castle day, around two o’clock, I was pleased to be able to scrape away some of the ice on the front porch, stairs, and sidewalk; also, I cleared as much as I could from the north sidewalk behind my townhouse.  Nevertheless, between two and five o’clock, a third round of freezing rain came although not as impactful; the greater issue was the run-off from typical locations that froze terribly thickly and was still to be dealt with today when are temperatures had dropped significantly.  This morning, Willow did not like the looks of the situation; however, after my mild encouragement, she did carefully move to her rock area to do her “business.”  Before we returned outside mid morning, one of the maintenance workers helped break up the most offensive ice so that Willow and I could walk more safely to her still ice-coated rocks. 

                Later, in the afternoon, I was back outside with my shovel to scrape more of Mother Nature’s artistry, but made less headway in the lower temperatures.  Thus, the ice castle had lost some of its appealing luster.  Willow and I are sure hoping for a longer walk tomorrow.

                Thankfully, warmer, melting temperatures are predicted for next week.  I smile and remember that we have had so little snow thus far this winter.  I am counting my ice-covered blessings.

Wintry wishes for safe and happy travels!

Alice and Leader Dog Willow

February 23, 2022, Wednesday


From → Uncategorized

  1. Susan McKendry permalink

    So happy you and Willow made it through the 2-22-22 ice storm–beautiful but dangerous. I’m wondering if you know about the ice storm of 2-22-1922. When I read about it, the coincidence seemed remarkable. Always enjoyable to read about the adventures of Alice and Willow!

    • Good morning, Sue–Always so good to hear from you on WORDWALK! I
      appreciate your mentioning the ice storm of 2-22-1922; I will look up an
      article about the event of one hundred years ago. Perhaps, the older ice
      storm was noted in John Gurda’s book  THE MAKING OF MILWAUKEE which I
      need to read again.  I just finished reading THE LEADING  LADY,
      copyright 1991, by Betty White and Tom Sullivan whose Leader Dog  Dinah
      is the “Leading Lady” of the nonfiction book.  Betty White adopted Tom’s
      Leader Dog after the Leader Dog retired from guiding due to diminishing

      Take care, and stay safe–Alice and Willow

  2. joanmyles permalink

    What a great team you and Willow are, dear Alice!
    Thanks for taking us along on your wintry walk.

    • Hello, Joan–Leader Dog Willow and I thank you so much for reading this
      blog post and taking the time to share a comment.  We were so happy to
      be able to go for a long walk this afternoon, and somebody had lots of
      fun tonight getting lots of traction in the newly fallen snow–so much
      better than ice!

      Happy future trails to you also–Alice and Willow

  3. Alice, you’re amazing. I’ve worked in a nursing home long enough to know I don’t want to end up living in one because I fell and broke something. Maybe I’m being too cautious, but I feel it’s better to be safe than in a wheelchair. However, I admire you and Willow for your courage and determination in the face of iceversity.

  4. Alice, you’re amazing. I’ve worked in a nursing home long enough to know that I don’t want to stay or live in one because I fell and broke something. Maybe I’m being too cautious, but I feel it’s better to be safe than in a wheelchair. However, I admire you and Willow for your courage and determination in the face of iceversity.

    • Hi, Abbie–Willow and I thank you for reading this post and taking the
      time to comment.  With each passing year, I am more cautious and more
      mindful of situations; also, Willow is the most cautious of my four
      guide dogs.  I am a great believer in good old common sense; and I hope
      I use more of it as I grow older.  Thanks for your concern.  Did you
      coin the word “iceversity,” or is it a word you have heard in Wyoming? 
      I like this word which I have not heard before.  No “iceversity”
      tonight–a new, fluffy covering of snow–much better than ice!

      Take care, and stay well–Alice and Willow

      • Actually, I coined the word “iceversities.” I’m surprised no one else has.

      • Good morning, Abbie–I think you should use the coined word for the
        title of a new poem.

        Happy writing!

        Alice and Willow

  5. Dear Alice,
    Thanks for the beautiful descriptions of the Ice Castles and more in this piece that made me shiver! I’m thankful that you and Willow now have some fluffy snow for safer walks. Bundle up and stay warm!
    Love to you and Willow,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: