Geoff’s new wife was an Instagrammer, and he had known it before the wedding, so he should have known what he was getting into. In theory, spending their honeymoon in a winter wonderland had sounded like a very good idea – long cold walks, followed by nice warm sheets. In practice, here he was on frozen beach at dawn while Dahlia capered across the black sands in her red parka and her ridiculously large camera. His nose was cold, his fingers were cold, and his ears were about to fall off.
He wasn’t the only one. There were about 40 people on the beach at seven o’clock in the morning, and of those, there must have been about a dozen couples – the women mostly cute and small and Asian, dragging along men who looked at him with suffering eyes. White, black, Asian . . . they seemed to form a little brotherhood. “Why are we here? Why did we ever get married?”
But then, one by one, the magic of the ice diamonds did their work. The brochure said they grew slowly in the neighboring river, and that’s what made them so clear and pristine – the kind of ice you’d like to see floating in your whiskey back at the warm bar in the hotel. A lot of the ice on the beach was in large slabs, about the size of a spare tire. Some of it was dirty and covered in sand, but when the tide flowed in, it washed the ice, caressed it to a polish, and deposited it in a new place to wait for the next waves.
Geoff pulled out his cell phone for just one shot, and then took another and another. The large ice, full of mysterious holes, the diamonds glittering on the black sand like baby-fist-sized engagement rings, and the ocean, smoothing away all traces of footprints, leaving a clean canvas and sometimes a new ice jewel for the intrepid photographer. Geoff’s fingers got cold, and he put his gloves back on, but soon,
one more diamond tempted him. He lost track of time, of all the other tourists, and in fact, of his bride who was off on her own search. He’d walked about 50 meters down the beach, where there were only three or four lone photographers, concentrating on their own little patch of beach, and he was in a world of his own, until he’d heard the shouts.
He turned back and looked at the mass of tourists near entrance. They were pointing out to sea, and then he saw her red parka, bobbing on the waves. He froze for an instant. The voices in his head were louder than the surf. Whatthehell, callforhelp, idontspeakthelanguage, imgoingtodieinthefrozensea. He stuffed the doubts away. This was Dahlia, for better or for worse. He hoped someone in the crowd would call an ambulance. He kicked off his shoes and ran into surf, trying to keep the red parka in sight.
Author’s note: This is the second in my local settings posts. I took these pictures this morning at Toyokoro, which exploded into fame last February for its jewelry ice. Actually, the ice has been forming there for centuries, but Mr. Hisashi Urashima, a local photographer with a gift for tourism marketing, popularized the name, “jewelry ice“. His photos are well worth a look. Urashima’s father, Kouichi, was responsible for turning a photogenic elm tree into a tourist destination. The legend around town is that he took pictures of the elm tree every single day, and some of his photos were used at the end of a TV drama. The tree’s fame spread, and attracted many tourists to the tiny town of three thousand people.
It’s inspiring: hone your craft, share your art. Who knows what will happen?
Visiting the beach this morning (enduring -15C temperatures but enjoying the bright sun), this fictional couple sprang to my mind. (-: Thank goodness, nobody fell into the ocean in real life! What inspires you in your neighborhood?