This place was once green and soft. Today, it’s completely frozen. Walking over the ice, all joints at attention, I’m focused on the task at foot. Subconsciously, my fears simmer; thoughts of sprawled legs, tearing ligaments, and whacked skulls. The terrain is uneven, slick, frozen, once slush. There are footprints, not my own, preserved. One long channel about as wide as my boot, slides out in front of me and I brace.

This is not pretty, white blue ice or safe soft-on-top-from-the-sunshine ice. This is muddy and sandy gray ice with leaves caught in twisted positions, sticks reaching through like the masts of little ships wrecked.

My boots have jagged soles that hook onto the crests of solid tumult, but I chose them for more esthetic reasons. Now, I envision myself reaching that soft spot over there, under a tree where the snow still sits proud and fluffy on top. There, I can be stable.

And out from under me goes a step. I counterbalance, throwing arms at violent angles and hissing mini prayers of expletives. Then, it stops. I’m standing, still, how? Still. I look down. The rubber soles are holding the ice with casual dominance, like this was what they were meant for.

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