High and Dry Ice

17 Feb 2021

In my teens and early twenties, I went to a lot of rock concerts – many in small venues.

I remember the smoke and fog effects produced by dry ice. The stage would swirl with white vapour, the dusty smell would prick your nostrils, the heat and excitement of all those packed bodies would heighten your senses, and the first notes would fill not only your ears but your whole being, as the band stepped forward out of that mist like eerie supernaturals from another sphere.

And the high bit? Well, there was more than just the smell of dry ice and warm bodies, so I assume many people around me were high, or at least a bit mellow. I was honestly far too innocent in those days to even notice.

It was an entirely unconnected thing which put me in mind of those old days: just the title of this blog.

My husband and I have a daily walk along the river. The Ouse flows just five minutes away. It is a broad and deceptively gentle river most of the time, but after rain it runs fast and mean, and breaks its low banks, spreading a sheet of water like polished pewter over the flood meadows as far as the eye can see. Our usual walk along the river is unpassable even in wellies, and the woods resemble mangrove swamps; the tops of the wooden benches along the path sticking up from the water like ribs and staves of wrecked and abandoned ships.

The weather has been bitter, and the floods iced over. When the river levels dropped and we could again take our walk, we noticed something: where the surface of the floods had been, the ice was still there, without support and no with water beneath, hanging high, dry, and brittle as frozen leaves.

It made me think of the things I bring from the past that are useless now; even things that are harmful. As a child, living in my grandfather’s austere household, emotions were not tolerated. Children were seen but not heard, and mealtimes were a terrifying ordeal as we children ate in silence, hoping desperately not to be noticed. Children could not show anger and weeping was not tolerated. This learned behaviour has carried on into my adult life. I stifle anger – which leads to hidden, boiling resentments – and rarely shed tears, so my children think me cold and uncaring.

Those emotions are frozen, like ice.

Ice has a function, it acts as insulation for the water beneath, thus protecting plants and aquatic life. Repressing my anger and tears as a child performed a valuable function too, but it no longer serves me and is now harmful to my adult relationships.

I remember those rock concerts with great affection, childhood mealtimes less so. But it makes me wonder what other behaviours from my past are like that ice, left high and dry; dangerous to me and to those whom I love.


A Moodscope member.

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