The Ice! exhibit (and no, the exclamation point is not my addition) at Maryland’s Gaylord National (park? center? facility?) is cold. I’m going to gloss over the “gaylord” jokes as I’ve already used them up on Twitter and Facebook…but it does strike me as odd that people would still name something in this day and age that would leave it open for ridicule and smirks. Fantastic sense of humor, fantastically out of touch, or just don’t give a shit?
Ice! is this indoor ice sculpture show. Swans and deer, penguins and ice-fishing polar bears all re-created and carved from tons of ice and kept indoors at a frozen 9F. Gloves are recommended.
The blue parkas that you’re issued upon entry are partially for your warmth as you undoubtedly arrived ill-prepared for it to be THIS cold, but more to provide a frictionless surface on which to careen down the two-story ice slide unimpeded.
I’m telling you, people, this is the height of Maryland good times out here. The glee-filled shouts are coming as much from the under 10’s as they are from my parents.
Cheeziness aside, this is high-art in this medium, regardless of the observer. The final scene, the nativity naturally, rendered in splendid full-size ice. Ice Jesus looked down at lovingly by Ice Mary and a little sidelong by Ice Joseph. There are three wisemen. There are goats. There is a shepherd. The gang’s all here, man. They are lit from within and their frozen beatific smiles shine down on us: the sinners with the camera phones.
I don’t know if I like it FOR its sacrilege or despite of it.
Even so, there is something peaceful about teddy bears and guitars rendered in ice, back lit and accompanied by piped-in Christmas music. It is seriously cold, as I mentioned. Enough to instantly wipe away the headache I brought with me. How can one have a throbbing headache with the blood frozen in your veins?
It’s so cold that it is beyond cold, and there is something certain, and calming in that certainty, knowing that you need only curl up with the ice tiger to indeed drift away into a cold-induced slumber and die. It would absolutely happen at this temperature and somehow the realization of the possibility, and the certainty that you will easily escape this near-death around the next turn, makes it all the more enjoyable.
OK and it’s called “gaylord”.