Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Out on the Ice

The Ice Cutters by Natalia Goncharova

I have a friend who has a house built around ice. The center of her house is the old Red River Ice House. Attached to the side was the general store her family owned. Behind the ice house was the first residence. As the family grew they wrapped the home around the ice house providing ever growing insulation to the timber and sawdust filled walls and roof. Selling the ice in the summer months was how the family afforded the ever more surrounding home as the family expanded until there was no need for the ice house and it became a pantry. Its original purpose forgotten.

Out on the Ice

The ice cutters 
walk the ice.
It must be strong
to hold the horse and sleigh.
to last the year.

The ice cutters
cut the blocks
on the coldest of days
to not weaken it
with the holes they leave.

The blocks of ice
in ice houses
will keep the fish caught
and game killed in fall
through the thaw.

J. Binford-Bell
December 1911


  1. What an interesting story. As I was reading the first time I was trying to imagine living in a house 'wrapped'' around an ice house. You didn't "babble" at all.

    1. I got acquainted with the construction of the ice house when they were doing yet another addition and remodel. We drilled into a wall in the living room, formerly the old general store, and the sawdust just kept pouring out and out and out. We were trying to put lights into the "pantry" which was the old ice house. Certainly was not as easy as it looked.

      The owner sat down and sketched out how the house was built around to eventually totally surround the ice house.

  2. Lovely...enjoyed your inspiration too...

  3. Interesting story well told. I knew a woman who lived in the old water sellers house situated over a well. It provided water for the whole village before piped water came along in the 1960s. The only other way of acquiring water was carrying it in buckets from the wash house spring which was some way from the houses.

    1. We all take the modern conveniences for granted. The town with the ice house did not get electricity until 1956. So the ice house was integral to the community until then and beyond because it took a while for everyone to afford a refrigerator they could plug in.


I appreciate all kind comments on my art and poetry.