Black Ice Magic

Hammond Pond

We can see right through.

“Is it solid?”


The ice. It’s been cold of late. The kind that burns your nose. Minus twenty-two in Vermont where Nicole’s going to college.

“I’ve never seen that.” I tell Mary.

“Sure we have.”

“I don’t think so. Not minus twenty-two. Maybe teens.”

It’s not quite as cold here in Boston, but still.

“Let’s go for a walk,” Mary suggests. “Hammond Pond with Lola.”

“OK. We’ll certainly be alone.”

We won’t have to worry about Lola scuffling with other dogs today, too cold. Most people choosing to stay in, warm. And we have might too, but today’s a crystal blue sky day, still, no wind. By the time we get out to the park, the temps will have risen to a balmy twenty something.

“We’ve acclimated,” I offer, all the while layering up about as much as one can. “No bad weather, only bad clothing.” I think to myself.

Mary and I out for an afternoon walk with our twelve-year-old Wheaton, who romps like a puppy through the park, and then limps around the house.

“She needs more medicine,” Mary says when she sees Lola struggle off her bed towards dinner or a drink.

“Do we know what it is?”

“Not really.”

“Didn’t the doctor say arthritis.”

“Yes, and no. Kind of threw up his hands and said: ‘Old dog. Her neck maybe, but that doesn’t hurt today.’

Lola’s reborn when she runs these woods, remembering all the times she and her boy-friend Gulliver ran circles around Mary and Julie. Round and round they sprinted, Gully in the lead. Desperate. Dominant. He burned bright and then expired one afternoon for no apparent reason. Heart burst. Looking back it makes sense given his take-no-prisoners personality, never met another male dog too big to run at, no park too big to circle. I see him keeping watch in the window when we walk by at night during our evening constitutional with Lola. Gully!

Today, Lola and I are on all fours staring down into the frozen ice. She skittering around, paws unable to grip. I down on hands and knees, trying to make sense of this black ice, the result of a series of quick freezes, the thought of swimming in an ocean the farthest thing from my mind.

“We’re going to need a day in the forties at least.” I explain to Mary of the February swim we’re committed to. “Fifty would be even better. It will feel like summer after this.”


But not now, not today, instead I’m down on all fours peering down through the perfect ice, leaves frozen in time a foot or so below.

“Don’t lick it.”


We’ve all learned that lesson, lost the skin off the tip of our tongues.

“You only do that once.”

Mary and I investigate the black ice, the bed of leaves, the wisp of snow on top. I wipe clear a clear window, take out my phone to capture the moment. Crawl around like a toddler.

“The water’s moving.”

A spot where air moves below the surface, the edge where ice, air, and some unfrozen part commingle.

“Your knees are going to be wet.”

I pop up. We run, hop, dance along the path along the backside of this small patch of urban wilderness. Trail run, keeping warm, having fun, being together. Simple pleasure with a woman who notices things while the rest of us just plow through life.

“Look at this,” Mary says, pointing ice falls hanging off bare rock.

“Wanna climb it,” she says remembering The Alpinist, our most recent Date Night living room movie.

“No thanks!”

We both still reeling. Still trying to make sense of a young man’s pursuit of adventure, pushing the limits, finding peace in purpose, the rest of us left here to ask what is happiness?

A day in the woods. A run in the park. Time with Mary.

A weekend walk with Mary and Lola on the ice at Hammond Pond




Writer, photographer, wannabe musician.

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Steve Mooney

Steve Mooney

Writer, photographer, wannabe musician.

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