The Crystalline (Frost II)

Can we do this, too — transform our transient stream of thoughts, worries, and hopes into something else, like frost transforms water into ice?

How do we begin? How do we get ready for it like water always is?

In Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal (quotes below in the translation by Marianne Moore) the two siblings Sanna and Conrad get lost on a vast glacier in a snow storm on their way home in the Alps. Frost has transformed the landscape, and is transforming the children, too, to the absolute essential.

The boy maintains hope, despite evident hopelessness, and his little sister maintains trust.

At last they came to a tract with not a tree on it.
“I don’t see any trees,” said Sanna.
“Perhaps the road is so wide we can’t see them because of the snow,” said the lad.
“Yes, Conrad,” said the little one.

“Sanna, we cannot go over there,” said the lad.
“No,” said the little one.
“We shall just turn around and get down somewhere else.”
“Yes, Conrad.”

These dialogues continue like this, while the children spend the night on the mountain in the ice. Conrad and Sanna are becoming ice, too, Conrad refracting reality and Sanna reflecting it back to him.

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