"In skating over thin ice, safety is our speed." Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I thought of that line today, when Chip insisted the ice on the pond was thick enough, mostly, but may be a little thin at one end of the lake. He reminded me that two inches of ice will hold us, and that section okay is only thigh deep anyway. Never mind that it was 7 degrees and so windy I could barely skate into it and had to zig-zag when it was behind me not to be airborne. Most folks take that quote as a metaphor for moving through uncertain moments quickly, without stopping, but I think Emerson may have meant it literally. He was a skater. Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau (all neighbors-- and what a neighborhood that was) skated together on the Concord River. Hawthorne's wife, Sophia, described the gliding trio this way: Emerson, "Evidently too weary to hold himself erect, pitched headforemost." Thoreau did "dithyrambic dances and Bacchic leaps on the ice." And Hawthorne "wrapped in his cloak, moved like a self impelled Greek statue, stately and grave." (This is from American Writers at Home, by J.D. McClatchy.)