Icicle was born in the early months of the year 2000; her creator was a slight 19-year-old girl, a college freshman who bleached her hair and used to like to lie on the floor of her dorm room, by the light of purple Christmas lights, and sing along with Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, soft under her breath. She was lovesick most of that year, which would be beside the point if it had happened that pukesick took her here, to the electronic equivalent to an abandoned warehouse, where she spent a lot of time scrawling lovesick and scathing one-liners on the wall. Sometimes the one-liners turned into prose poetry or even term papers. The point is, for some reason in the thick of all this lovesickness she got this Joni Mitchell song stuck in her head and there it stayed.

(Yes: Joni Mitchell. I'm not going to apologize for that, and if you ask me to you're bound to lose a lip.)

The song was called "Little Green." It was on Blue, a wonderfully wintery LP icicle's progenitor purchased in high school at the thrift store down the road. The part this slight 19-year-old had in her head went, "There'll be icicles and birthday clothes and sometimes there'll be sorrow." The songwriter was evidently talking about a little girl she was giving up for adoption, evidently envisioning an entire life for this little girl with some other family. This concept - look at this whole future, look at this whole life, and goodbye - resonates so powerfully with the lovesick progenitor that she enters it into a text field and another sort of love child is born.

Icicle and her progenitor, as if often the case in places like this, became synonomous. Of herself, in this space, the progenitor wrote, She is a hillbilly type, which is part true and part not true. The progenitor was in fact born and raised in rural Idaho. She'd done factory work and spent much of her childhood playing on her grandfather's farm. She said "crick" instead of "creek." She knew the difference between a real tomato and a tomato from the store. But she hadn't exactly blended with her indigenous landscape, and few acquaintances immediately identified her as coming from it.

The progenitor further went on to describe icicle as someone who "believed in things" (but was clearly embarassed enough by her ideals to point them out); as someone who chased boys and wore fishnets. The latter habit still holds; the chasing gave way to subtler means, but the end remains the same, as our progenitor remains a fan of the Y chromosome for reasons beyond her rational comprehension. It's also still true of icicle's progenitor that she reads old paperbacks and cusses like a sailor, though these days she also reads three newspapers a day, enormous hardback tomes. Her obsession with the Y chromosome, and with certain types of writing, lent itself almost as inexplicably to a subscription to Gentleman's Quarterly.

The progenitor identified icicle as having braces. Maybe icicle, the character, still does. Her creator, as of July 2, 2003, does not. She does wear two retainers, thus keeping the Lolita effect alive and well in the hearts of fetishists everywhere. (You know who you are.)

Icy's progenitor also wrote that she liked to "cause trouble, make enemies and influence people." No one in 2003 is entirely sure what this means. Icicle's progenitor, however, has chosen a profession in which, in the words of H.L. Mencken, one's highest calling is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That's something like the prior statement, or might be, although to her own knowledge, icicle's progenitor has few enemies.

When icicle's progenitor wrote here before, she closed the writeup saying, of her invented self, "She will never grow up." She was 19. Now she's a few months shy of 23. What this mostly means is that when icicle's progenitor looked at her hands for years, she saw the small, stubby hands of the girl she had been since she was seven. Now she looks at her hands in action and somewhere along the way, without her noticing, they began to look and move like the hands of a woman. Hands in which you can place sensitive information and hearts and babies and other delicate things and be reasonably assured they won't end up too badly damaged before she is done. (She hopes.) This might be where icicle's progenitor finally outran her, where icicle remained a strange, flirtatious, acerbic figment on backlit screens across America. Her progenitor looks at those mysterious hands and thinks things are in store for her that in no way involve one-liners dropped into the catbox or into the Create a Node field. She's not going to be writing about lovesick college kids for the rest of her life, because she isn't one anymore. Icicle's progenitor is an intern; she makes money writing about propane tank explosions and how to shoot a bear if one really needs to. The other night she read a story about an ice man who murdered the woman who would not have him - with an icicle. Then the murderer and the weapon melted away. Perhaps icicle's progenitor senses that she's used her persona as a weapon as well, and both are melting away from Everything2 either because of cowardice or remorse, or some strange combination of the two. Or not. At any rate, icicle is often here anyway, but she is less like the lovesick college girl you may have encountered in writeups with that byline and more like - well, more like whomever it is she feels her creator is on the verge of becoming. Whose fate and identity are somewhat uncertain, but most likely positive.

If you live in an area where icicles form in the winter, you know that icicles are normally clear and beautiful. There are two things that make icicles so perfect:

  • Icicles are made from pure water in the form of melted snow. It's de-mineralized water.
  • Icicles are created in layers. Water drips down the icicle and freezes in progressive layers rather than being frozen all at once. This approach avoids the entrapped bubbles.

Icicles are a rather improbable natural phenomena, which is one reason that icicles are rarely found in nature.

For an icicle to form, there must be a source of fluid water that transforms into ice, meaning that there must be (relatively) warm water that somehow manages to freeze in the time it takes to drip down a brief distance. This is, on the face of it, a difficult thing to accomplish, since if there is water that is warm enough to be liquid and to flow, why would it then suddenly freeze?

That is why icicles are more a product of human habitation and building than they are of nature; and also why icicles are more a result of relatively warm times than truly cold times. Typically, icicles form when there is an object covered with snow that heats up to a temperature above freezing, while the air around it is still below freezing temperature. This is typically the result of a human structure, that is warming up because it is generating its own heat, or because parts of it are metal, stone or wood, materials that can absorb radiative heat quite well, even when the air around them is well below freezing. The snow melts, runs off the (relatively) hot roof and then quickly freezes while hitting the much colder air.

This is not to say that the same process doesn't occur naturally. The sun can heat up snow piled on a tree, or on a rock formation, which will then melt and refreeze in the shade. However, the icicles formed by natural processes are not usually the perfectly clear, cylindrical ones that we see hanging from roofs.

I"ci*cle (?), n. [OE. isikel, AS. isgicel; is ice + gicel icicle; akin to Icel. jokull; cf. Gael. eigh ice, Ir. aigh.]

A pendent, and usually conical, mass of ice, formed by freezing of dripping water; as, the icicles on the eaves of a house.


© Webster 1913.

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