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The Ice Castle Antidote to the Mid-Winter Blahs
There are many aspects of winter that I find uninspiring—the dark evenings, the hours spent wrestling kids into coats—but the phenomena of Ice Palaces is simply not one of them. How often, in our daily lives, do we get to visit such magical places, twinkling and sense-defying and straight out of fairy tales? As a graduate student in tooth-crackingly-cold Minnesota I used to visit the St Paul Winter Festival's Ice Palace and marvel at all the work that had been put into a structure that would exist for just a few weeks, like those ambitious World's Fair Exhibitions they used to make back when people had attention spans.
Of all the gorgeous pictures on the internet of incredible structures made of ice (and to be sure there are many!), I'm most moved by Brent Christensen's Silverthorne Ice Castle, a cavernous, surreal-looking place that looks as if it were constructed by an army of icy elves, or else appeared on its own in an enchanted forest. Apparently neither of these is true, and it was instead put together by Christensen, using, amazingly, only ice and water. Just look at these photos, and then think for a minute about how painstakingly this beautiful thing has been put together, how much work Christensen has put into it, all so that people can visit, feel enchanted, and then the whole thing can melt away like a mandala.
A post on Christensen's blog discusses the process of putting together the ice castle in warmer-than-usual temperatures: "We never know exactly what the ice castle will end up looking like, because the weather (temperature, wind, snow, etc.) affect the way that the ice forms. We know exactly what the layout will be, but we are excited to see the way that it all comes together!" Even if I can't visit this place in person, gazing at the pictures reminds me of the sheer joy of creating and experiencing something. Sometimes we're so focused on the end result—the completed project, the record for the future, the contribution to the field, the work we're procrastinating by visiting Winter Festivals instead—that we forget to just enjoy the process. Maybe we can't always control the circumstances of a project, but we can still be excited and optimistic about where the fates will take us.
Visit the Ice Castles site for more gorgeous photos,the sweet story of how Christensen started building ice castles, and a few short documentaries on making the Ice Castles. Or, check out the Ice Castles at Silverthorne Facebook page. (via The Huffington Post)
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