A Fragile Existence

We visited an ice castle in the mountains. Oh that sounds so wonderfully dreamy and fantastic and it was a site to behold. The castle was built over many days and includes slides, arches, towers, caves and tunnels. It took almost a month to create and about 10,000 icicles per day were harvested. The icicles were built and assembled alongside and over color-changing lights that created a breathtaking show. It felt as if the visitor had escaped to a far-off winter wonderland.

When we entered the castle, I tiptoed and carefully selected my steps so as not to disturb this frozen work of art. However, the size of the crowds were astonishing and as we proceeded through the castle I could see the influx of guests and hear the icicles fall and crunch. Some people even snapped off icicles to hold and for play. Of course this monstrosity of icicles was created for fun and enjoyment, not to whisper and tiptoe through but I couldn’t help noticing that while the structure was tall and massive and large enough to hold hundreds of people that it also was in another way much more fragile.

We too lead such a fragile existence. Over time and through our childhood and experience we grow and build a tough exterior. We do not come crashing down at every unkind word or hurtful conversation or broken relationship but it chips away. The hurt breaks off one icicle and then another and then another. Our core still stands however our being, our heart is changed one tiny moment or interaction at a time.

In the words of Holly Butcher, a 27 year old woman who recently lost her battle with cancer, “That’s the thing about life, it is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.”

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The Swamp

West of New Orleans and South of just about everything else in America sits an oddly beautiful place, the Atchafayala Basin (I quadruple-checked how to spell it). Visiting the South is something I choose to do exclusively in the Fall and Winter months. When you’re married to someone from South Louisiana I don’t think its too much to ask to be taken on a Swamp tour and so my spouse and his family joined me for everyone’s first-ever Swamp tour. 

Google tells me that the Atchafayala Basin is the largest wetlands and swamp in the United States. A swamp tour in Louisiana is an amazing adventure. We rode in a flat bottom, tin-looking boat out on water that spanned for miles and miles. Our guide spoke English, but his accent was so thick I understood very little of what he said. We saw alligators, birds and I’m pretty sure I ate 1,000 calories in bugs.

What I didn’t expect was the peacefulness of this place. The Spanish moss covered trees that sparsely dotted the water were eerily beautiful. The water seemed to never end, which is one thing when you’re in a boat on the ocean but such a different feeling, view and experience on fresh water. Apart from the people and the food, this serene, scenic tour is one of my favorite things about the South and the pictures, although gorgeous, definitively do not do it justice.