Dec 28 2008

Big Ice

Published by at 6:15 pm under music,sound,update

Life since that last post has been quite the adventure! In the pre-dawn hours of December 12th, I awoke to the most extraordinary noise, that went something like this:

  1. *CRACK!*
  2. SSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHcracklecrackleSSSSSHHHHHHHcracklessssssssssss
  3. *BOOOOMmmmmm!*
  4. Repeat every 20-ish seconds

That is the sound of trees falling. Weighted down by a thick coat of ice, thanks to the “wintry mix” that had been falling several hours, entire trees were snapping like matchsticks. I’ve never heard anything like it – a strange nighttime battleground. Things became a bit nerve-wracking when a giant falling limb grazed the side of the house where I was sleeping, and for the rest of the night I stayed awake, listening.

In the morning I went outside to see what looked like the set of a strange, post-apocalyptic video game.

ice storm - macdowell road

I was particularly dismayed at this sight:

ice storm - my squashed car :-(

Yes, that is – or um, was – my car. Ouch!

After girding ourselves with coffee and pancakes in Colony Hall, which thankfully has generator power, the only sensible thing to do was to go exploring.

MacDowell Colony - Ice Storm Stroll

Everything was coated with ice.

MacDowell Colony - Ice Storm

Including downed power lines, yikes!

ice storm - macdowell road

It was all very surreal.

MacDowell Colony - Ice Storm

And surprising!

MacDowell Colony - Ice Storm

The next day the temperature dropped even more, down to single digits, but the sun came out, and oh, it felt like being inside a chandelier.

ice storm - the sun came out!

Long story short, there was a bit of winter camping, a lot of time spent on the phone with my insurance company, and extensive fire-stoking. The staff was completely incredible during my whole time at MacDowell, and over this difficult week they were heroic – many had sustained damage at their own homes and were without power, but they still showed up and always kept their cool, and their senses of humor!

Unfortunately electricity hadn’t reached my wonderful studio before I left, and packing up my gear in freezing temps (even a roaring fire wouldn’t totally warm up the large space) was definitely glum. However, I did receive an fantastic gift during that week – as small pockets of electricity began to come on around the estate, Resident Director David Macy invited me to spend a day working in the music room at Hillcrest, the huge, lovely house that is now used for important visitors. Built by Marian MacDowell as a special place for Edward MacDowell to work, the music room is one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen – my photos don’t do it justice – and I was completely honored to be able to simply look around, let alone settle in a bit and do some composing!

Basically? This was an astounding experience. Another reminder that Mother Nature can seriously kick our butts at any time!

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Big Ice”

  1. Ramon says:

    Beautiful photos! I love your picture compositions.

  2. Brian says:

    Wow! The tree in the last picture looks like a giant dandelion with all the spores waiting to be blown off. Great to see you guys last night!

  3. Alex Shapiro says:

    Wow, Alex! Great pics, fabulous descriptions. I love, “it felt like being inside a chandelier.” Perfect. Glad you weren’t INSIDE your car (ouch!) or that any limbs didn’t decide to come crashing down on you during your ice skating break… uh, I mean, exploratory stroll. It IS an exceptional thing to be shown nature’s power. Sobering, but so beautiful.
    Stay warm!

  4. Hi, Alex. Great pictures, and what a great attitude. I left the MacDowell Colony at 9 am on the morning the ice storm started, nervously. The roads were fine and I was headed south, so I was out of the ice storm very soon. When I heard that 2/3rds of New Hampshire was without power, and (a few days later) saw that the road past the Colony was out and the power was out too, I felt like someone who’d just been dropped off a lovely yacht and, turning to wave a sad goodbye, saw it sinking. I heard (from Michelle) that your car was crushed. You dealt with it all with aplomb. Happy New Year!

  5. Dear Alex,
    What a great piece–an exemplary way to cope with something of a disaster. The photos are gorgeous. Isn’t it something, that weird connection between the majestic and the catastrophy?
    A tree feel on my brother’s van last year and did the same; I feel for you, and I’m so grateful that neither of you were in your cars.

  6. Alex says:

    Thanks so much for the comments, everyone!

  7. Collier says:

    Alex, I just read this after you posted it on FB at Kelly’s post. So neat to read your thoughts about it in real time–it brings the whole thing back, and makes me feel especially cozy in my not-frozen apartment now. 🙂

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