I've sunk my teeth into a seasonal job that fits. It's challenging & different every day; it's physical & outdoors, so I get to fully appreciate the beauty of winter. It allows me to be creative in a way I've never experienced. It's like building a castle out of lego blocks, except that the castle is 30 feet tall & the blocks are made of ice.
If icicles were Lego blocks, I'd be a Master Builder.
This year, I built an ice castle.
I've heard it referred to as 'The Coolest Job in the World,' but I like to think of it as 'The Icing on the Cake.'
When I go too much into detail, I can hear myself sucking the fun out of it by droning on about observations of the ice & water. All of our problems are water & ice related, and so are all of the solutions.
(Too much water? Make it into ice!)
(Too little ice? Make more ice!)
(Ice in the wrong place? Blast it with water!)
Seeing it every day allows me to admire the subtle changes & micro-formations the ice creates. I've seen big flat rounded ice, curved icicles, icicles that freeze diagonally or in zigzag patterns. I've seen ice crusts on top of fresh powder snow, ice prisms that form over an empty frozen pond, flower petal ice, dinner plate ice, cloudy old ice & sparkling new ice. I've seen sunlight make the castle glow a turquoise colour, & as it heats up the ice blocks, they rupture into honeycomb patterns.
See? I get carried away with the little things that I find magical about the castle; the way the ice shifts & groans, & creates massive fissures or lakes as it pleases.
Another detail I am relishing is strapping on the crampons & climbing the ice! The reality is that I am usually tending to the plumbing by adjusting the sprinklers on top of the walls, but I savour it. I embrace the view for sure, but working at a height is not always easy. I end up in situations all the time that push my limits. I end up just waiting for the fear to pass, assess the best way to move forward, & do it. These moments are sharpening my skills. I love overcoming that fear & going on to do those things on a daily basis.
(To clarify, these are not dangerous instances. So long as I have time to assess & work out how to do it safely, it's not problem. Unlike that time I got stuck on top the ice tower - that's another story.)
Climbing once taught me to trust your gear. I have definitely learned how to trust the crampons, & I am still learning which types of ice to trust. (This is the first time I've ever enjoyed freezing rain! It makes the ice all rough & grippy.)
It's hard to trust the ice because I know that it has a mind of its own. Our job is essentially to train water into following the paths we've created for it, but as a co-worker light-heartedly put it: "Water always wins." It always ends up leaking one way & flooding huge sections despite our efforts. Some days we'll show up to several new waterfalls that have redecorated overnight. "I guess there's a waterfall in this room now."
Surprise waterfalls & indoor pools are just part of the magic of the castle.
So far, winter has been showing us her truest colours & it has been phenomenal. It didn't take long to realize waterproof boots were a requirement, especially on those milder days. We had about 20 days of below -20 in December, but so long as you layer up & bring a spare pair of socks, your reward is a shining sun lifting rainbow sun dogs high in the sky. You wouldn't believe it, but most days I would have the beginning of a sun burn from so much reflected light! Working up a sweat in the cold fresh air is really good for the spirit. :)
I usually work during the day to prep the castle for opening in the evening, but I sometimes like walking around in the evening to see everyone enjoying it. By the time the music is playing & the lights are creating fabulous displays on the ice & in the fountain, the ground feels like fresh snow & the wood fires are little oases keeping everyone from getting too too cold.
It's nice to be a part of their wonder & enchantment of the ice castle. On particularly challenging days when it's super cold & the ice wants to do what it wants, I have to remind myself that we work on a fricking ice castle. It's basically an ice climbing playground.
AND we got to build it & watch it grow up.
That's the cherry on top.