The river lies resting beneath the ice. Whether that rest is peaceful or anxious, I cannot say. Is there resentment in the old watery heart at having been "tamed into a series of navigation pools, locked punitively between dams? Does it rest quietly, dreaming of spring and fresh snow melt, or does it wait like an ambush predator beneath its brilliant blanket of snow and ice, waiting for the inevitable fool to try to walk across it's vast width, only to disappear into its icy, ancient body?
Perhaps the river, like the universe, is impassive, paying little to no attention to the myriad forms of life depending on its presence for life, food, transportation, or recreation. Or maybe it has the sympathy of the old and the wise as it bears witness to all those short-lived creatures that frequent its banks and flood-plains—raccoons, mink, dogs, cats, birds, humans, and trees. Hulking corpses of the latter litter the river's banks and sandbars, or lie beneath its surface waiting to catch presumptuous propellers and distracted boatmen, hence their name—snags.
The rocks and driftwood along the shore have, like the river, blanketed themselves in white, leaving only their southern-most sides exposed to the reluctant sun. The blanket gleams and glints like millions of tiny diamonds in the late afternoon light. Near the shoreline, tracks trace the path of last night's foragers, meandering over the snow in search of food against the biting cold. From what I can see, there were no violent encounters last night, at least on this stretch of the shore.
The trees, now devoid of leaves, sport similarly colored accouterments, the result of a freezing fog. Dark branches are both outlined and covered with ice crystals, all glinting in hazy sun. The artist Vasily Kandinsky referred to white as a great silence that shrouds its life from our understanding...not a dead silence but one pregnant with possibilities.
Days later, when the temperature rises, the river will stir. Imperceptibly at first, like a man waking from a deep coma, the river will move. Melting snow will sing as it falls onto the still frozen surface, accompanying the flash of light on gull wings wheeling overhead. The singing voices will increase as avian heralds announce the coming spring.
For now the great silence is broken only by the momentary groaning of ice being pushed into accordion plates against the bank. Once more, the silence descends over the father of waters. Life is slowed, but not stilled beneath the ice, biding its time...pregnant with possibilities.