Tug of war

I walked the stream, all the time wondering about the thickness of the ice. It seemed sufficient at the edge, less so a foot or two out, and there was none in the middle of the waterway. More than once my careless steps liberated large blocks from their moorings to be drawn away by the flow. Most of the ice was rough-edged, with little elaboration. The weather had been mild and most all of the delicate crystals which had formed several weeks ago were gone. Perhaps a few remained? I walked slowly, as if shopping for a trinket. I stopped. Compared. Judged. And considered.

As the water surged from below, it pressed against the underside of the ice. When the water fell, I could see through thinner spots, that some clung to form a continuous sheet. Most of this retreated into the torrent save a small cadre of tenuous drops. Large ones bulged and elongated under the influence of gravity, eventually giving way. Smaller ones moved nervously, chaotically. When one of these, by chance, met another, the pair would coalesce to form a drop large enough, with mass enough, such that gravity could now win what had been a tug of war with the adhesive forces of unknowable numbers of hydrogen bonds. Each would then dissolve into the darkness. Numbers dwindling, like so many candles, extinguished by a strengthening breeze. With the next surge, however, another cohort would appear to dance briefly and then disappear.


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