Ice-mageddon 2013. Luckily, our hydro has stayed on, despite miles of wires sagging with ice crystals glittering in the frigid sunlight.

We’ve been hunkered inside since the weekend, cooking, cleaning, wrapping gifts and waiting for the sun to finally come out. Preparing for our Swedish smorgasbord Christmas Eve dinner, sauteing the ingredients for stuffing the turkey tomorrow afternoon. Last night, I’d eased out the back door, seeking the clusters of fresh sage growing by the side door. No turkey would be complete without fresh herbs tossed with the bread, onions and celery. The cedars framing the path blocked my way, cramped thickly with ice and bent to the ground. Under my feet, the ice and crust of snow were thick enough to hold me up without cracking. I retreated inside. No matter – I’d dried a few bags full during the blaze of August. That would have to do. A reminder of summer’s shimmering heat.

Hub has ventured out to get his hair cut. He’d begun looking like an aging rock star. As much as I’ve grown to loathe the cold, the shadows and play of light in the yard called to me. I rummaged in the garage for my snowshoes and suited up in snow pants, ski jacket, thick boots, hats and mitts. Once I got outside, it was so cold my breath came in thick clouds that frosted my glasses. My ungloved fingers fumbled with the straps of my snowshoes. I needed my forefinger free so that I could capture the glitter with the lens of my camera. The spikes of the snowshoes crunched without leaving much of a mark in the hard shell of white covering the lawn. Under a marine blue sky, the air was still except for the crackle of branches overhead as they shifted under their burden of glitter. Clusters of dried leaves on the Korean lilac tree remind me of copper. Our cedar hedges look more like brambles, spread wide and low to the ground, hiding piles of rabbit poop. Even the rose bushes are so encased, they can’t bite through to chew the sweet prickly stems. I’ll toss out some carrots and ends of celery.

The sun glanced off boughs laden with frozen crabapples. The birds would have to wait for their Christmas dinner. The bird feeder was iced shut. Sorry… I hadn’t filled it before the sleet came. As my fingers stiffened on the shutter release, the controls on the camera slowed. I could hardly turn the focus ring. My breath fogged the viewfinder as I circled the yard, snapping away blindly, breathless with the cold and the gorgeous beauty of the iced boughs drooping in the sun. A tangle of animal prints – the hares that live under the Norway maples, I think – barely mussed the sparkling pristine surface. Nature’s jewel box.

My fingers were starting to burn. I could no longer bend my thumbs. Enough.