Mother Nature had created an awesome museum of abstract icy art over the past month.
The exhibition was downright bright, beautiful and sparkling some days.
The displays ranged from fragile frost features to hard and bubbly ice creations.
Some creations were added to or detracted from. Other displays disappeared altogether.
The creations were delightful and different.
They changed everyday.
That's why it was exciting to visit the exhibition every day.
There was always something new.
Mother Nature's icy art museum
The show was so pleasing to the eye, that I was inspired to put my own spin on it with my lens ball. It was a little tricky trying to find good placement for the glass orb. Several times it almost rolled into a very cold creek where retrieval may have been next to impossible.
However on some days, the museum has trouble with its climate control system. Sometimes, the heat is broken and the air conditioning was turned up to freezing.
Additionally, the sprinkler system was out of control on certain days and the museum's lighting was hit or miss.
Maneuvering around the icy exhibitions also proved dicey. With the freeze and thaw cycle, traversing throughout the displays was challenging on certain days.
Some of my museum tour members had trouble with footing on the slick surfaces. In fact, there were several days that the goats didn't make the rounds.
I even had trouble getting around to see the different displays. I almost ended up as part of the exhibit in a very cold creek. Grabbing a tree for support wasn't any help when one side of it was covered with ice.
After one thaw and refreeze, the snow was actually sturdy enough for the heaviest of our tour group to walk on top of it.
Other days when the museum's sprinkles wouldn't shut off, crossing the creeks became a problem. The tour group often had to find other ways around.
Nonetheless, the canine museum tour members preferred the exhibits created by other animals.
The dogs especially like the displays titled "Calling Cards of the Wild." I hated these exhibits and found them offensive and disgusting. Unfortunately, they were placed everywhere for the canines to find.
Meanwhile, the dogs on ice show would probably becoming to an end as the museum's heat was turned up.
I felt the ice was not safe enough for them to perform anymore.
At one point, Mother Nature had added some green to the mostly white displays.
However, the next day the artist decided to add some white to the green.
Whether or not the exhibits remain white or turn to green anytime soon is up to the museum's curator.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
Those that show up
When tragedy strikes, there are those who show up. They take the time out of their lives to help community members in need. Nothing brought this sacrifice closer to home last week, when the neighbor's house at 104 Sawtown Road, Oil City, caught fire.
At first, nothing seemed amiss at a little after 3 p.m., I just thought when I looked down the road that the freezing rain was making it hard to see. Then, I heard air breaks next door. I soon realized that the siding on the neighbor's house had melted and then spotted the flames.
Also on the scene was Community Ambulance Service, which happened to be parked outside my home on the roadway. The fire was located on the corner of Sawtown and Old State Road where there really wasn't any parking and the deep snow also hampered things.
Fire vehicles and volunteer vehicles filled residents' driveways up and down the road.
I kept checking out the window, hoping that some of the home could be saved, but knowing in my heart that most of the time these old homes don't survive. I did snap some photos from my side of the fence. Better photos probably would have been taken from the front side of the house, but I did not wish to get in the firefighters' way.
Some shots with a better vantage point were taken from my attic window.
I lamented the fact that a home that had stood through storms and all kinds of weather for more than a century was now succumbing to fire.
This was more than just a house, it was a homestead. According to county records, the home was purchased in 1970 by Ralph and Ester Myers. They and their family lived their while my grandparents occupied my current home. They had a large extended family and the home was used to house generations of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The current occupant Robert Myers, had worked diligently to maintain the old structure. There was a tin roof added in the past year. When I spoke to him a day after the fire, Myers said he had recently spent money to update the front door.
"This hurts," he said, as he and some of his kin tried to sift through what was left. What was left was just the tin from the roof and some still smoking timbers that filled the home's basement.
He told me he was home when the fire broke out and believed it may have been caused by a ventless heater in a bathroom.
The home was not insured and Myers lost everything in the fire.
A Go Fund me account has been set up by his daughter. Here's the link www.gofundme.com/f/5tjrb4-help-my-dad-get-a-place-to-live?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer
On Facebook Thursday night, several family members mourned the lose of their childhood home. Community members commented on how they couldn't believe what was happening and that the property held many memories.
Thursday night as the fire raged on, there seemed to be a point when the firefighters just stepped back from battling the blaze. It appeared to be inevitable that the home would collapse as the fire gutted the structure.
The volunteers kept ready to spring into action in case the fall of debris got out of control. The fire burned for several hours.
Needing to get up for work the next day, I went to bed at 8 p.m. with the lights from the fire and emergency vehicles dancing across the bedroom ceiling. Reports indicated that the scene was mopped up after 10 p.m.
The fire kindled one of the worst fears for my husband and I living in an older home. What lurks behind old walls could be the downfall of the structure.
I was greatly reminded how much of a debt we owe to volunteer firefighters. I was grateful for those who gave up their free time and sleep to protect the community.
The incident served as a reminder that these agencies need our support. As the labor market tightens and time is at an all time premium, one wonders what would happen if no one showed up. Whether we can volunteer our time or money, we need to do it.
I need to remember when that fundraising letter comes in the mail to not set it aside, but return it with a generous donation.
As looked at a photo I had captured of icy tree branches being illuminated by emergency vehicle lights, I was eternally grateful for those who showed up and those that will hopefully continue to show up.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.
"The Nature of Things" features the writings and photographs of Anna Applegate, who is a lifelong resident of Pinegrove Township, Venango County. She is a graduate of Cranberry High School and Clarion University. After a 15-year career in the local news industry, she made a change and now works at a steel finishing plant in Sandycreek Township. She is a avid lover of animals and nature, and a gifted photographer.