Let me make it clear in the beginning, that title is not mine. It is the title of one of William Shakespeare’s sonnets from Love’s Labor’s Lost. I will explain below why I chose this title.
During last week of December, 2018 we visited Zion National Park. There, on our hike on Temple of Sinawava Trail and the trail to the Emerald Pools, we saw icicles hanging by the walls of the majestic cliffs. This brought back memories from my highschool days , and believe me that was a long long time ago,where our poetry textbook had the poem with the title above as a required reading.
Being born and brought up in a place where only ice we saw were the popsicles from the vendors’ carts ( and I am still not sure why were those called ice cream then). I had no idea what icicles were. I do not think our teacher had ever seen an icicle. Still we had Icicles Hanging by the Wall to be taught and tested on, the teacher explained the poem to us with due diligence, we dutifully did our homework explaining the poem or a verse of the poem with reference to the context and our homeworks and tests were duly graded. I am not sure now if we had a question from this poem on our board exam or not. Our board examination papers were graded by unknown teachers selected at random by the school board. Therefore I am not sure if the teacher grading questions from this poem, if there was any, had ever seen icicles or not but based on my understanding of the situation prevalent at that time I would believe that the chances were negligible to non-existent. A perfect scenario of blind leading the blind.
My first encounter with real snow was the day after Christmas in Atlanta, GA, as I and my wife with my wife’s aunt were looking for winter jackets. We came from India to Florida and were going to school at Rolla, MO starting January. Needless to say we had zero winter clothes to face the midwest. Lo and behold, as we bought our jackets and came out of the mall to the car we were greeted with our first real snow ( as per aunt it was just flurries but to us it was real snow). Still no icicles.
The first real snow fall we had was on March of the first year we were at school in Rolla, MO. I still remember it vividly. We had our class going at around 9:00 AM on a third floor classroom when someone shouted snow. We rushed to the window and what a heavenly sight it was, the pure white fluffy real stuff. It snowed off and on during the day with some sunshine in between but still no icicles.
That night I had my first encounter with icicles and suffice it to say that it was not a happy encounter. As the snow fell during the day off and on, it had melted on the roof but due to the freezing temperature towards evening, water running down the sloped roof had turned to ice and by late evening the roof edges were covered with hanging icicles. As we were coming out of our graduate students’ offices at night, those hanging icicles were shining like Christmas decorations. Alas, as I was looking up I got my first lesson of not being careful with black ice. Before I could get my foot on the last step, I found myself flat on my back looking up at those hanging icicles. That was one time I was thankful of my fat butt. Between that God given cushion and my newly bought jacket I weathered the fall with little noticeable effect. Still no icicles hanging by the wall.
And that brings me to our trip to Zion National Park when I was at last face to face with icicles hanging by the wall and can now legitimately claim that I do understand what Mr. Shakespeare wanted to say. Glad that I now do not have to take a test.
All photos were taken by the author during Dec 28-Dec29, 2018, at Zion National Park, Utah.
|“When icicles hang by the wall”|
|William Shakespeare (1564–1616)|