Icicles, blizzards & hanging out

By Carol / January 15, 2024 /

A line of stalactite icicles dangle from the eaves of our house this year, icicles thick and thin, long and short, like a line of daggers both deadly and beautiful. It takes just the right conditions to create so many icicles, and it doesn’t happen often. But when it does, I can’t help but feel excitement.

Icicles ring our house this year.

A day like we had this week – with a blizzard wind blowing snow sideways, every event cancelled, and icicles reminding us just how cold it is – signaled a special day when I was a child. This was a day when we all hung out in the house.

There wasn’t much time for hanging out on the farm. We always needed to do something. Feed the calves. Clean out the pens. Make hay. Weed the garden. Wash clothes. Chop thistles. You get the picture. Even us kids. But when it happened, hanging out was on a day like today. Even Dad didn’t go outside until it was time to milk the cows.

It was odd for all of us to be in the house for an extended period of time.  What would happen, we kids wondered? What would we do? When icicles hung from the eaves, though, we might make ice cream!

Making ice cream as a family

While Mom cooked the custard, Dad took a gunnysack and filled it with icicles he pulled off the garage. Down in the basement, my sisters and I beat the bag of ice with hammers to make small chunks as Mom filled the canister and inserted the paddle. Dad put the canister in the wooden ice cream bucket, attached the handle, and packed ice around the canister, sprinkling the ice with coarse salt to speed the melting and lower the temperature. Then we cranked. And cranked. And cranked.

“Is it ready yet?” we asked again and again. “My arm is tired,” we complained. As the custard thickened and turning the crank became more difficult, the task fell entirely to Dad who never seemed to wear out.

Eventually – probably sooner in real time than it felt to us – the ice cream set. Dad pulled out the paddle and we all stood around scooping the ice cold, slightly salty tasting, sweet treat into our mouths. Delicious. Exotic. So precious in its rarity.

Looking out the window at this year’s icicles and watching the blizzard rage, I considered how wonderful it is that nature hands us these moments. When we’re diverted from our normal routines, when we let go of getting the next task done, and open ourselves to the joy of just spending time with those we love.


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  1. Nan Johnson on January 15, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    It’s been too cold to go out, even down here in Missouri. Temps were below zero yesterday; today we are at 7 above. My husband, now retired, and I pulled some wild plums from the freezer that we had harvested from our rural property last summer. We made wild plum jelly this morning, filling the kitchen with that tangy, sweet aroma. As I washed the sticky pot and utensils, I looked out of our kitchen window at the frozen landscape of our backyard and felt immense gratitude for warm shelter, our health, and for the time to spend in this way. The appearance of your article today was timely and wonderful to read! Thank you, and all the best to you!

    • Carol on January 15, 2024 at 2:48 pm

      Your wild plum jelly sounds wonderful, Nan. The choice to make jelly with your husband on a day like that is exactly what I’m talking about. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience. Stay warm!

  2. Carol Ervin on January 16, 2024 at 12:40 pm

    Lovely piece, Carol. We used to make ice cream from icicles too, but we got ours from a spring in a cliff along the road near our farmhouse. Great times!

    • Carol on January 16, 2024 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you, Carol. I can visualize those icicles from your brief description. Bet gathering them was fun. Great times, indeed.

  3. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on January 19, 2024 at 2:50 pm

    Welcome back, Carol! I haven’t received your blog posts for quite some time, so signed up for them as I always enjoyed them. I hope you are receiving my notices when I post.
    Making ice cream together as a family and then enjoying the result sounds wonderful!

    • Carol on January 19, 2024 at 3:14 pm

      Thank you for signing up again, Elfrieda. I took a longer than expected break from blogging, but returned in the past few months. Only to find that people weren’t receiving what I wrote! Hopefully this is resolved now. I do receive your posts and frequently comment, though for some reason they post as anonymous. I’m so sorry to read about Harley’s passing. Your posts about him have been some of your very best. You have so many loving memories of your time together and I’m happy you’re sharing.

  4. Mike Koch on January 19, 2024 at 10:58 pm

    Hoping that I got signed up. Can you let me know if you got my email address?

    • Carol on January 20, 2024 at 8:59 am

      Hi, Mike, Thanks for re-signing up. You’re all set!

  5. DALLAS DENTER on January 20, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    weather station said we had 54 below my digital one was 43 below but that is where they quit working. Some snow and wind.

    • Carol on January 20, 2024 at 3:34 pm

      You have us beat, Dallas! Though our windchill got into that range during the past two weeks. Stay warm up there in Montana. And thanks for stopping by.

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