Remember the Ice Capades? Before the days of Disney on ice, and all of those dress-up character ice shows. I always wanted to go to the Ice Capades when I was young. I remember seeing the commercials when they would come to Los Angeles, and ask my parents if they would take my sister and I. Much like the G.I. Joe action figure I asked for Christmas after Christmas.....it never happened! Little did I know that later down the line, the Ice Capades would become a regular event in my life of which I would, unwillingly....or unwittingly depending on how you want to look at it, become a performing part of. Let me recap some of the recent highlights of my world of ice.
Did you know that when traveling down a highway at say 45 MPH on a cold day, that an aluminum ladder, discharged out the back of a pick-up truck, will in fact become a speeding projectile when it hits the icy road? It was almost like a flowing choreograph out of "Riverdance" the way it flew out and began a horizontal swirl on the pavement. The fashion in which it stabilized its forward momentum, and almost quite literally gained speed and then gracefully swooned to the shoulder as the two stages of the ladder began to separate.....pirouetting separately into a double sow-cow as they slide off the icy embankment to take a bow. Seem unbelievable? Well, as I caught a glimpse of something flying out the back of my truck, I looked in the rear- view and witnessed the uncanny spectacle first hand, and as you may guess....in complete disbelief! I still haven't figured out how it got out of the strap that was holding it down. I am guessing that at that speed, the latching mechanism may have just froze to the point of 'give', and 'gave'! Fortunately, nobody was hurt during this ballet on ice, and in fact the ladder did survive with only a scrap on it's rubber footing.
One of the centers that I do maintenance on has a section in the rear where shop owners and such sometimes leave their vehicles parked overnight.....or at times longer. What is amazing to me is the genius who leaves their vehicle parked for the weekend, in a large puddle of water. What is even more amazing to me is when that weekend the temperatures drop drastically, and that puddle of water becomes a block of embedded ice. With anything that was parked in it before hand becoming an affixed semi-permanent figure in that ice..... for a couple weeks. Think about it, if a toe truck ties a cable to it to try and pull it, a piece of the vehicle may come apart. On the other hand, if you try to use a propane flame-thrower, you may well melt the tires. As the ground has become progressively frozen to the point of 3 inches of solid ice on every surface that once was not, these predicaments seem to become more and more common. Do ya think!?
Speaking of 3 inches of frozen ice on the ground. We are a little fortunate here at the compound, as the ice is only an inch thick on our once thriving lawn. It is however closer to 3 inches or better on the drive and is so slick that it's glossy appearance would remind one of a subtle mirrored pond winding down the length of the drive. I know better though. Therefore I avoid the thick 3 inch ice of the drive, and often find myself taking the shortcut across the more manageable terrain of the frigid lawn. To my dismay. The other day as I gingerly traversed the rise of the grade past the corner of the garage on my way to the truck, but my feet felt a yearning desire to mimic those of no other than Mr. Bojangles. In one felt swoop I found myself doing a vertical slide which erupted into a glorious horizontal rise, attempting to defy all laws of gravity, as I felt my body leave mother Earth just long enough to mutter the words, "oh fu...., I began a rapid descent back to Earth. Fortunately I landed not on my back, but on my ass. Unfortunately, I have no ass, thus no 'bouncing effect' transpired and the sheer blunt trauma of the ensuing "thud" left me without breath and utterly dumbfounded....staring at the sky. Down at ice level, the trembling thought that was going through my rattled mind was that Maryann had already left for work, and if John decided to go to town after school, I may die of hypothermia on my ice laden lawn. Good news to this story was that after a few moments of lying there on the ice field, my unpadded ass became so cold that I could no longer bear it and the will to stick it in front of the glaring wood stove drove me to force my aching body back to it's original vertical homo-erectous position, and I waddled half-gimp idly back to the house. Oye!
With Maryann still working nights.....still......by the time she gets home and settles it is well into midnight. Thus, I often find myself staying up and bedding down just past midnight. In the case of last night, Maryann was off so we went and did our weekly grocery run into Soldotna at Freds. Coming home later that night, I noticed the distinct white glow forming in the crystal clear night sky to the North. It appeared almost as like the 'bat signal' peering star ward in a straight column. Sure enough it begun to turn a greenish hue. The Northern Lights. Now, after arriving home I found myself continuously going out and looking at the night sky, waiting for the Aurora to emanate, but to no avail. So that night around 11:45, Maryann and I start to go to bed. I walk into the bathroom, and through the window I notice that white hue again, spread out across the sky. I alert Maraynn, and the two of us begin a dash to grab coats and slip-ons. I however was the only one to gallantly make it out the door. At -3 below 0, I guess Maryann figured she would wake John and watch through the warmth of his bedroom window with him. Now it would seem a normal thing to any onlooker, Greg runs out the door and starts to see it emanate across the sky, and as he looks upward in complete awe, staggers across the frozen grass to get the 'ideal' viewing spot. Unlike the front grass near the garage, the back lawn is less traveled therefore capped with traction bearing snow. No chance of slippage here. All of a sudden out of the dead silence I here this loud noise somewhere in front of me which literally made my hair stand on edge, and turned my legs into wilted noodles. I had never in my life heard this sound and as a hundred questions of curiosity, fear, and the urge to dis spell flooded over me, somewhere in that jumbled mess I thought, oh crap. A moose. You see, unlike the warmer months, moose tend to be a little more temperamental and unpredictable in the frigid cold. In the summer they are warm, and there is plenty of food. In the winter, they are cold, miserable and hungry since their food is encased in snow and ice. This makes those 'Marlin Perkins' like photo shots I was able to take up close, impossible as they will just assume charge and mame. Back to my thought....oh crap, a moose. I did a complete 180, and high tailed it back to the back door, I am sure leaving a trail. Meantime Maryann and John are watching out his window, wondering why dad seems to be backpedaling to the door like he just saw a ghost. Now, scared, yeah I was. But the instinctual curiosity which runs in the Phillips veins, compelled me stop and delve deeper into what had just happened. While doing so, I noticed that I was hearing no snorting....no hooves trampling ice....nothing. I am befuddled. I stood there for a minute listening intently. Then out of the silence, again this blood curdling loud sound bellows across the lake, echoing in the cold night air. Now, just before this run outside to see the lights, we were watching the "X-Files" on tv. Talk about feeling the hee-bee friggin gee-bees. I darted into the house, all erried out. Somehow I persuaded Maryann to come out and listen to this horrid sound. I was telling her it almost reminded me of a loud electrical impulsing noise. Again, I have never in my life heard anything like it, but am quickly realizing that this is no animal. No, this is huge like some geophysical oddity, or a space craft about to come up out of the woods across the lake. no, this is huge, man. So Maryann comes out and soon enough she hears it around the corner of the house and says it is the hot tub. But the hot tub doesn't cycle on and off in les than 2 seconds, and echo across the lake. And, it stays in one place...on our deck. Not shifting from place to place in front of and around us. And so she gets a good one. This one is loud and I watch her eyes get big and her knees somewhat buckle as she says, "what the hell was that?!" Now, we are both about to lose to bottom end. We both freaked and immediately darted back into the safety of our confines. And so it was, just like the X-Files, "the truth is out there...." But we are oblivious much like Mulder as to what that truth is.
We have some guesses as to what kind of strange phenomena may have transpired. We are sure it was the lake. How an inanimatable body like a lake could make such an inhuman blood-curdling bellow like that, is quite beyond me. I never knew a lake could fart! We suspect it has something to do with the ice. I am sure it is very thick now, and given the gonnos, one could easily walk out onto it. Possibly the water table is slowly rising, causing the edges to pop? Or maybe expansion of the ice? But no joke, this sound is unlike what you would expect from expanding ice. I mean, this sound like it is occurring below the ice into the depths of the water. But the reverberating bellow it makes, seriously almost sounds like a huge electrical pulse. Weird doings here. So I am sure at some point we will find out the source of this mystery sound. But in the mean time, it sure was fun getting the crap scarred out of us in the midnight ice!
And so is life in the Ice Capades. Thanks mom and dad. Thanks for never taking me to the Ice Capades when I was young. You must of known in that instinctual heart that all parents have, that someday, I would be the friggin Ice Capades! Take care, and walk litely!!