Wednesday, December 26, 2007

new ice, old ice

The day after. Empty campus. Cold office. No good mail, piles of paper, exams to read. I walk over to the College Library to pick up some books. I linger over the new collection. I'm leafing through a volume titled “All the Money in the World.” I’m on the chapter about whether money brings happiness.

Not surprisingly, most rich people think it does not. Most rich people, I think, don’t remember what it’s like to be not rich, in the same way that I do not really remember what it’s like to live in a poor country: I only recall I felt like Nina then and feel like Nina now. Troubled by everything and nothing. Is it that you only notice deprivation when others count on you for a better life?

Outside, I note that Lake Mendota is getting that sheen of ice cover. Not thick yet, not rippled, not covered with snow. Dangerously new, not solid. Kind of like a fresh relationship – the one you shouldn’t feel too comfortable with. Time hasn’t thickened the skin yet. Everything is new. Everything is shiny. Everything is fragile.

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I drive to the other lake, the one with the bay at the side, The one favored by the ice fishers. And they are there. Doug-in, safe, on ice-covered snow.

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It's good to be able to count on that sheet of ice growing solid. It doesn't cost much to hang out its surface and hope for a fish to make its way into the bucket. You're alone. You let someone else fix supper and welcome you at the end of the day.

The world is different depending on where you throw your stool.