the frozen sea: 58/365

I woke up to a frozen sea–outside–so I’m thinking no longer inside. I’m going to take it as a sign that the universe is with me.

I’m in Provincetown where the temperatures for the last couple of days have been in the forties. Before I went to sleep last night, I lowered the shades so daylight would wake me. When I first opened my eyes, I thought, that’s weird, we weren’t expecting snow. A bit later I sat up and could make no sense of what I saw. Where the ocean should have been, it was white–huge blocks of ice–for as far as I could see.

So actually it was a chopped up frozen sea–a frozen sea the universe had taken an axe to. Step one in the process of melting.

I pulled on my boots and a jacket and without stopping to brush my teeth, headed down to the sand. Phantasmal boulders of ice. I was so disoriented. They seemed to have come out of nowhere. I kept looking in each direction, trying to make it make sense.

This has to be one of the top ten most amazing things I’ve ever seen, although at the moment, I’m not sure what the other things would be or what could top this. It was so unexpected. Such a gift.

An ice floe. I’d never seen one but surely that’s what this was. From a couple of people I talked to (yes, I talked to some people), they said this happened back in 1977-ish and again in the 90’s.


A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.
Franz Kafka


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23 thoughts on “the frozen sea: 58/365

  1. Yowza. Looks so… alien. But also so beautiful. If your inner ocean freezes again, remember how much this outer one fascinated you, drew your eye, whispered of wonder and mystery. Why take an axe to that?


  2. Well I was pretty excited when I wrote this post yesterday so just now I edited it a bit to reflect that what appeared at first glance to be a frozen sea turned out in fact to be a chopped up frozen sea–the first step in the process of melting. So what fascinated me was not the smooth surface of a frozen sea but the turbulent hunks of ice created by The Great Axing.


  3. Mesmerizing photos! Aren’t you lucky to witness a once in a third century natural phenomenon? I hope it’s that and not another symptom of global warming, like the extra deep snowfalls we are enjoying in Maine. I’m dreading the wintery mix due this weekend. It looks like it’s hitting the Cape too. Take care and have a plan for staying warm!


  4. Oh, lovely. Still, you’re celebrating huge hunks of ice, which means, I suppose, sure, bring out the axe, but maybe not the ice pick or the flame-thrower. And some hunks can be–must be–much larger than others, if you want to maintain that pretty, uneven texture.


  5. It is truly an awesome sight and I’m glad you were there to witness it. I can’t help that the first thing I thought of (and still think) is it was the remnants of another giant mass that broke off the ice cap : / Still…breathtaking and ominous!


  6. I agree, Sarah. Whether rightly or wrongly, I chose to appreciate the ice floes as a natural phenomenon rather than a presage of global warming. About the weekend weather, I don’t think we’re supposed to get much–maybe just some flurries. You and Claire, stay warm where you are.


  7. Donna, I don’t know whether it has to do with global warming or not, but I think it came from the frozen harbor in Wellfleet, and as it got warmer, it broke off and headed our way.


  8. I have been wanting to return to this post for so long and had trouble finding it. Then, this morning, it was the first one I clicked on. Witnessing an ice floe – what an incredible experience, a once-in-lifetime. And how lucky for the rest of us that you documented it with beautiful writing, photos, and the perfect quote.

    It reminds me of a natural event I witnessed in Provincetown some twenty years ago. It was a warm summer night and Commercial Street was crowded with people. We were between playing the jukebox at the Old Colony and the pool tables at The Governor Bradford when we ran into a sober friend with a Jeep and an oversand pass. We piled in and headed out of town and into the dunes. It was a foggy night, and as the Jeep bounced and jostled us over the sand, the mist grew thicker and thicker. By the time we reached the water, we could only see a few feet in front of us. The fog obscured the horizon, blotted out the sky. Our friend with the Jeep (I don’t even remember his name), pulled out a guitar and started playing. I stood with my feet in the water and looked out in awe. It was as if the sky had fallen into the ocean, a million shining stars glittering just beneath the surface of the water. A rare night of bioluminescent phytoplankton lighting up the foggy pitch black. Waves of stars lapping our legs, cupped in our hands.

    I’ve been going up to P-town every summer (and some winters) since I was 19. It’s a place I hold very dear. I love all of your details about the area and that this is your writing home. I can picture it all so clearly. Four summers ago I finally took a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center, such a special place. Perhaps one day we will get to meet in person on the Cape!

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  9. Sarah, I’ve read your comment over several times since you posted it. What you described is so cool. And I can’t believe we have Provincetown in common too–the perfect place for us to meet with all the mystical connections between us.


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