2021 Grateful 47: Glass balls weather

We woke to a cold house. The electricity had gone out about 4 am. What heat we had built up had quickly dissipated and my hot flushes weren’t coming nearly quick enough to keep me warm.

Thankfully, I fare much better in cold weather than I do in heat, so I was relatively grand. Himself was tipping around the place in a woolly hat and scarf and jacket making all sorts of contingency plans for the next time this happened. A neighbour called and invited us to share her fireside. I called a friend a few villages over to make plans to go charge phones, laptops, and power-banks if things hadn’t switched on again by noon.

I decided to make use of the gas oven and bake so at least the kitchen would be warm. The sun came out and soon the temperature climbed a notch or two past uncomfortable inside. Outside it was still -3 and not showing any signs of improving. We’re expecting -10 tonight and less than a fortnight ago we were enjoying a balmy 17 degrees.

There was a time in my life when I’d have considered -3 to be balmy, too. But that was then. My blood has thinned. Or thickened. I can never remember which.

A photography page I follow on FB has been bursting at the seams with photos of the ice-bound southern shore of Lake Balaton. There’s a lot of talent out there. One particular photo of what looked like glass balls on a beach had me puzzled. I couldn’t get my head around it so I decided to go see.

We headed over to Balatonberény, stopping at a small public beach after spotting this frozen bench from the road.

icicles on a frozen bench at the beach at Balatonbereny

And there, too, were my glass balls.

frozen glass balls on the beach at Balatonbereny

It was quite something. Bitterly cold though. The kind of cold that could make the hairs on your legs fall off if you hadn’t been to the beautician last time you were in Budapest. The sun was shining. The hills on the north shore of the Balaton were hazy in the distance. And life was good.

The water at the edge of the lake had frozen in patterns that looked for all the world like the tidal marks I remember on the wet sand when digging for clams under the watchful eye of Bob Sickler in Kenai, Alaska, back in the day. The old curmudgeon is holding court in heaven these days, one of many I hope who are keeping a watchful eye on me.

Too cold to linger, we drove along the lake to an old winter favourite, Balatonmáriafürdő. There we found a different kind of wonder. The left side of the pier was bathed in warm sunlight while the right was frosted over. Walking along the pier was like walking through two seasons.

the pier at Balatonmáriafürdő

But all along the pier, reeds and rocks had frozen over, each one a work of art on show in this magical outdoor gallery. The patterns varied from stone to stone, pitting some like golfballs, others like honeycombs. The sun added splotches of colour here and there as if a postscript to a sad letter reminding the reader to have hope.

The beach there, too, was covered in glass balls, as the waves driven by the cold north wind caught the four o’clock sun. My reed buddies reflected the light with a truth had me looking inwards and giving thanks to my God for the simple complexity of it all.

P.S. I read a quotation from Stephen Hawking recently that came to mind.

The universe and the Laws of Physics seem to have been specifically designed for us. If any one of about 40 physical qualities had more than slightly different values, life as we know it could not exist: Either atoms would not be stable, or they wouldn’t combine into molecules, or the stars wouldn’t form heavier elements, or the universe would collapse before life could develop, and so on…

Crazy as our world is, it’s still magical.

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