Posted by: normanlgreen | October 8, 2012

Dream, October 8, 2012 Freeze & Thaw

Dream, home, 2:53am

It is the late 1920s, and I am nine years old and visit my wealthy friend. His family lives on a large property on a high bluff that overlooks a mountain valley.

There is a family tradition that each year the floor of the garage at his house is flooded to form an ice skating rink. The hard freeze outside will have frozen ponds that would provide skating, but this place is special, covered from the cutting wind and for that reason luxurious. Someone has left open the giant doors that tilt into the rafter. Overnight, some of the snow from outside to blow in. One area where a standing pipe with a tap has leaked, uneven ice has formed. It has the watered milk color of the glass that my mother sets at my place at the dinner table – milk watered-down to go further.

Though my friend has a rich family and is a month older than me, he is easily manipulated. I convince him that it is time to build the rink for the year, that he and I can do it without the help of his older brothers. The tap within the garage is frozen shut, so I pick up a scoop and fill it at a sink in a utility room on the house side of the garage. I carry the water one scoop at a time and pour the water into the low spots, or use it to melt the jagged lumps that have formed without guidance. I am frustrated by the little impact I make by this method, so I find a bucket with a wire handle. Each time I fill it, the water is warmer, coming from a more insulated portion of the house. I watch as the warm water melts away the collected ice. Water flows across a walkway close to the wall that the garage shares with the large house. Where the wall meets the concrete floor, the plaster is unfinished, the trim work never installed. The water disappears under an exposed 2 x 4. I tell my friend that he will need to dam up the leak so that the water will have time to freeze on the floor. I worry for a moment that we have flooded the basement, but go for another bucket of water.

When I come back from the room with the slop sink, the Father has returned from work and parked his huge 1920s touring car. I see him sweep away some water. The floor has much less ice than when I started improving on its natural collection. We greet each other, and I see that his chin is bristled with white, that his hair is not so black and smooth as I remember it. He appears worried. As he sweeps snow crystals out the open garage door he does not look me in the face. I walk around him, trying to engage his eyes.

“Are you alright? Is there something you want to tell me?”

He verges on telling me his troubles.

“Some times … There are troubles…” but he is unable to finish with words.

“That you have to wait for the right person,” I offer, “or the right person at the right time.”

He nods and sets his jaw in a sad smile. He squeezes his eyes shut, to keep unspoken things on the inside of his eyelids.

“Mr. Baird?”

He turns toward me and opens his eyes again.

“Mr. Baird, I’d like some day, to be that person. For you.”

He freezes and looks at me. Behind him, out the door that opens to the mountains, I can see that the sun has burned through the clouds for that last blast of light, to treat us on a winter’s afternoon, more warming for the understanding that it would soon disappear behind the wall of mountains to the West.

“Young man,” he answers, “I should not be surprised when that day arrives.”



  1. These have been particularly striking lately, Norman. I’m really glad you’re back to posting again.

    • getting some sleep, once again.

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