(I get a ice cube for the ages / Photo by Leigh Ann Thacker)
To be honest, I never really paid much attention to ice. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I loved it in my summer’s drink — a mixture of pineapple juice and a splash of Malibu. OK. OK. OK. Two splashes of Malibu.
And, I really love it in my mother’s iced tea. My mother’s iced tea is truly a beverage miracle. Sweetened with sugar. Made with love. Served with lemons. Now, that’s something good, right there.
But besides that?
To be honest, I never really paid much attention to ice.
Not until Saturday.
Not until our Mercedes van lumbered up from the little town of Vik, Iceland to the most wonderful wonderland of all time and to a place called Hnappavellir, Iceland. It’s a wide spot in the middle of the road, and if you count the free-roaming sheep — who resemble a Q-tip on steroids — and the vehicles, there may be 100 or so people and things here.
Not until we saw Europe’s largest glacier, which covers over 20% of the entire country of Iceland.
It was then, when I looked up and down, I saw a mountain of ice created some 10,000 years ago by some mixture of volcano activity and a rush of cold North Atlantic water and air.
It was like looking the creation of the world right in the eye, and seeing the most amazing collection of little ice cubes all melded and molded into one gigantic clump of berg.
It was like looking at a kaleidoscope and realizing that this is for real, man.
There were hunks of ice the size of a school building floating in a lagoon. For reals.
There were blue chunks that truly looked like giant swaps of cotton candy which were bobbing and weaving in the icy waters as if they were connected to God’s fishing line.
Crystal blue. Dark blue. Navy blue. Baby blue. All kinds of blue.
There were mountains of ice, covered with tons of snow and sitting on a former volcano — as if the Lord ordered one scoop on some occasions and two heaping mounds on others.
There were crystal clear lagoons that catch the falling ice sculptures, and let them take a bath and swim at their leisure.
And, just a mountain ridge farther East or West, there was nothing. Nothing but rock. Nothing but a former volcano. Nothing but black drapes that serve to hide the glaciers in their most modest hours, or when they are changing clothes. One or the other.
For a few minutes, our group just stood and watched.
Mouths hanging open.
After all, as Uncle Bill said out loud:
“They don’t have this on Blood River (at Kentucky Lake).”
No, they don’t.
They don’t have this anywhere else in the world either, to be honest.
Not like this. Not like this big.
And, then the 6 Kentuckians trekked over to catch our “duck boat” for a dip in the icy channels and waterways. Our guide scooped a fallen branch of ice from one of the broken wings that had displaced from the massive glacier above.
He took a little hammer and chiseled off a piece and passed the plate for all to taste — like a communion on Sunday.
The ice — so cold and clean and clear and beautiful — was estimated to be about 1,000 years old, and a former tick on the mountain glacier that stood here when the Vikings landed on this island over 10,000 years ago.
And, I tossed the watery cube into my mouth.
For a second, I felt bad. I felt like this piece of ice should be preserved and restored to its’ rightful owner — on that brilliant mountain of water and cold. I felt like it should be retained. For all the world to see and keep.
Then, I realized that this was, too, a circle of life. Just like the lion cub that became a lion king. Just like my dad before me, and his before him. And, for a second, I wondered if there really were any “McLeans” living or around some 10,000 years ago when this drop of water was iced away into history.
As the ice melted in my mouth, I thought about all the things that this ice had seen or heard and the amazing changes that this little “thing” had managed to survive.
The ice was amazingly — hmmmm — tasteful. Unlike any piece of ice I had ever taken before.
It chilled. It cooled. It satisfied my thirst.
Most of all, though, it quenched.
It quenched my thirst for life.
It quenched my thirst for knowledge.
It quenched my thirst to live in this moment; to put phone aside; to look in amazement and wonderment; to breathe in the air; and to taste the seconds as they — and the ice — ticked into nothing.
Soon, the ice was gone.
Soon, the moments were gone, too, as we headed back to civilization and the world.
But the ice left an impression.
Maybe that won’t last 1,000 years or 10,000 moments.
But the ice will last as long as I do.
In my memory of a lifetime.