Liquid politeness

It’s nice out … I looked up.

… and they call for rain, she added. I tied my shoes.

The only remaining indications are ice on the pond and the absence of green leaves. It is cool, but the ground is yielding. Living things stir, uncomfortably, and with what seems like great effort, as we all do when roused from a nap that went on too long. Where weeks ago, and in its solid form, water had splashed in silence, it now flowed with liquid politeness.

I came upon a maelstrom. Waylaid by small stones and twigs, bubbles were directed to double back. To be redirected. And reversed. And redirected once more. Eventually their numbers grew such that some moved forward to a point where adjacent flow could tug at the leading edge of the assemblage. Once this was caught, and because of the attractions among and between them, the entire group of bubbles would be swept away. The collective motion was reminiscent of times when,  as a kid, the teacher would roll a mercury thermometer off the lab bench. As it hit the floor we would all scream with excitement. What fun it was to herd quivering bits of quicksilver about the room.

Moments after the one captured here, I stood up to be sure that my glasses were perched where I had left them. They were. When I retrained my eye, I was surprised to see (or not) that my maelstrom-in-miniature had dispersed. I lacked the patience to watch as another gathered. I walked on.

[Before ending I must warn that (1) mercury is an extremely dangerous neurotoxin and you should never allow yourself to be exposed to it in any form, (2) modern thermometers are manufactured with oil or with alcohol and should not contain mercury, and (3) with regard to the sort of childhood experience I have described, I believe it was like many things back then in that I’m certain folks were simply unaware of the danger.]


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