“Darn!” I said to myself as I walked out the door of my apartment building. “I parked in the wrong place.”The row of cars closest to the back door were sleeping, windows laden with frost, in the shadow cast by the building I was leaving. The vehicles across the lot shone in the early January morning, their windows bright with melted ice.

I approached my car while considering the fastest way to get my windows clear enough for safe driving. I’m not a fan of scraping frost off my windshield, but the coating was thick, not only in front but also in back and on the sides. I opened the door, slid into the driver’s seat, started the engine, turned on the defrosters and thought some more.

It was a warmish morning for January in Michigan, and despite the thickness of the frost, I reckoned that a little washer fluid would give me enough visibility both in front and in back to move slowly out of the parking lot and into the street.

The side windows though, were a bit of a problem. I might have to scrape after all. Let me say here that my aversion to this winter ritual for the garage-less motorist in Michigan is not about prolonging my sojourn in the cold air.   Rather has to do with the tedium of the activity and the fact that I’m somewhat ineffective at the task.

As I sat while the windshield fluid and wipers did their thing , I looked behind me to the row of cars sitting in the sun.   Drops of water glistened across their panes of glass. “Aah,” I thought, “I’ll take my car into the sun and wait until my windows are clear.”  I backed up slowly, aware that my visibility on each side was compromised. And then I turned the wheel to station my silver Fiesta directly in the sun and perpendicular to the cars behind me.

When I stopped backing up, I turned to look out the driver’s side window to determine whether I was blocking anyone who might be coming into the parking lot. The sun shone through the layer of frost, illuminating each crystalline bit of ice.

I was mesmerized by the way each ray was refracted. I continued to watch as the heat began to melt the ice on the window.   Hexagonal shapes not unlike a honeycomb reflected light then morphed into a grid whose horizontal and vertical lines became small translucent avenues of water evaporating before my eyes.

“What if someone sees me just sitting here and wonders what I’m doing?” The random thought broke into the stillness of my absorption.

“So. . .?” another voice replied, and I lost the edges of self consciousness to merge once more into the simple beauty of frost melting on my window in the first rays of the morning sun.