No winter in recent memory has made me wish so desperately for spring. As I open my computer to begin writing this column, the scene outside my window is gray and soggy. But there’s not a speck of snow left, even in spots where the sun never shines. No ice, either.
For that, I’m grateful. Because not long ago, ice lay so heavy on the branches of the tall pine trees in my yard that it snapped many of them in two. It messed with my satellite dish until I feared I wouldn’t be able to watch the tail end of the SEC basketball season. It caused my heat pump to keep tripping the circuit breaker. And it made me reluctant to leave the safety of my garage for the slippery roads that surely awaited me.
To say nothing of the devastation it wrought in Monterey and Crossville.
That kind of ice, I hate. But there’s another kind I adore, even in the dead of winter. Whatever the season, I love ice in a glass, with the beverage of my choice poured over it. I’ve always been puzzled by people, including my own children, who prefer drinks without ice. They defend that choice by saying they don’t like watered-down orange juice. Or that more Dr. Pepper fits in a glass with no ice. Cold drinks hurt their teeth or cause stomach aches.
I just shake my head in wonder when I hear such talk.
Because, for me, one of the great pleasures of life is a tall glass jam- packed with ice and filled with sweet tea. With extra lemon, of course. If the tea is already cold, the ice will stick together and sink to the bottom of the glass. Which is one of the many reasons iced tea spoons were invented. Tea that has recently been brewed and is still warm will melt most of the ice. What’s left will float to the top. As far as I’m concerned, a little bit of ice is almost as bad as no ice at all. That’s why those of us who are picky about such things ask for a glass of tea and an extra glass of ice when ordering at a restaurant.
I like all shapes and sizes of ice. I grew up with big, old-timey cubes, popped out of aluminum trays with a handle that took real muscles to operate. Motel ice, perfectly square little cubes with a hole in the middle, is always a treat. Assuming that the ice machine doesn’t share a wall with my room. And I love the long, cylindrical cubes designed to slip effortlessly into narrow-necked bottles.
But my favorite kind of ice in the whole wide world is crushed ice. It allows the tea or juice or Coca-Cola or whatever else is poured over it to chill completely. It soaks up the flavor of the beverage and then grows softer, making it perfect for crunching when the drink is all gone. It looks stunningly beautiful in the glass.
What’s not to love?
That’s why I’m so thrilled that—for the first time in my life—I finally broke down and bought a refrigerator with an ice dispenser on the door. It never made sense to own one when I had children at home, given how much I hate to mop. But now that I have such a refrigerator, I wonder how I ever got along without it. I’m so excited that I find myself filling my glass every time I pass by it, even if I’m not thirsty.
Because I like ice. The kind that doesn’t fall from the sky.
(March 8, 2015)