An Ice Way to See Dallas


Ice Sculpture Exhibition at the Gaylord Texan Resort

Crossed fingers, locked in place for several months, need to remain contorted if Mother Nature arrives early. She’s known for sweeping wintry entrances with icy blankets for highways, byways, runways and other ways that we might go.

Such slippery surfaces call for tons of salt to remain functional. Alas, our tattered nation is bound to be running short of the blessed stuff – particularly for folks expected to be the “salt of the earth.”

Salt shortage is particularly imminent in election years when we’re bombarded by polls, projections, predicaments, predictions, precursors – and a bunch of other “p” words that often are elusive, posing as truths, half-truths or untruths.) With so-called “mainstream media” intent on “p”-word overload, we struggle to differentiate. Taking ‘em with grains of salt helps, and if we run short, the future will be tough to endure.

My 100-year-old Uncle Mort, maintaining that “pay as you go” policies benefit “our house, the courthouse, the church house, the state house and the White House,” claims to be might near “wore out” from assaults on his senses.

“I’ve heard more than I want to hear, seen more than I want to see and am ‘pert near out of snuff,” he said.  “I keep thinking about my old daddy’s favorite quote about ‘being so far gone that salt wouldn’t save us’.”

Mort’s need to get blood work done seems ironic. He’s been putting it off, fearing that his sodium reading will be “off the charts.” (He knows his doctor will assault his use of salt.)

   I don’t remember his being so riled in a long time. With the old “salt-saving line,” he’s reaching back to “pre-Spam” days of salt-cured meat and smokehouses.

What could I suggest? Despite Mort’s huffing and puffing, he’s usually “right on” about serious topics.

“Think positive thoughts and share them,” I mentioned, knowing he would expect specific examples.

“Tell about that Monarch butterfly that ‘metamorphed’ too long in New York, missing its flight south with buddies by several days,” I said, capsuling the empathy and determination of a butterfly expert and an accommodating spirit at Southwest Airlines.

The butterfly was “packaged” in a glassine envelope with a damp piece of cotton, inside a Tupperware container and packed inside an ice-filled container resting in the overhead bin above the butterfly expert who saved its life. It wound up with “fellow swarm-mates” at San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

The butterflies currently are “chowing down” before continuing southward migration.

“Treat your eyes to objects not seen before,” I urged my uncle. I cited breathtaking works at Dallas’ Arboretum and the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, where tons of art in glass and ice soothe the senses.

So popular are the free-standing glass sculptures of artist Dale Chihuly that the exhibit has been extended through the end of 2012. Massive free-standing works at fifteen locations on the Arboretum’s sixty-six acres are projected to attract more than a million visitors.

Some visitors by day are returning for night exhibits, lighted three nights weekly, and vice versa. They’re “oohing and ahhhing” at the creations of the world-acclaimed artist who is known for works in botanical settings. As to the delicate handling and transporting of such delicate items, well, I don’t think I want to know.

Meanwhile, in Grapevine, dozens of artisans from Harbin, China have worked twelve-hour shifts for four weeks, carving almost two million pounds of ice for the 8th annual exhibit at the Gaylord Texan Resort. Working in a refrigerated tent cooled to nine degrees, they’ve transformed ice to mind-boggling art forms.

It is made with “recipes” that result in crystal, cloudy and colored blocks–is transformed into awe-inspiring works. Visitors also are treated to 1.5 million holiday lights, a rotating Christmas tree fifty-four feet tall, 12,000 ornaments, a snow-tubing hill and more, now through New Year’s Day. (Warm attire for ICE! is suggested–i.e., hats and mittens. Hooded winter coats are provided by the resort.)

Mort is heartened at the thought of seeing exhibits of both glass and ice. He might wait until the last day, however, figuring he might witness both breaking and melting. Whatever. I asked him not to look back; he might turn into …. But that’s another story.

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site:

Humorist Don Newbury is author of When The Porch Light’s On.


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