ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was written outside the regular prompt calls, and is posted here as barter for [personal profile] dialecticdreamer posting "Workshop Progress" so you can read Part 1 of her story already. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family.


"Polishing Winter"


After Victor granted permission for Nandru
to flood the low part of the common meadow,
which wasn't in high demand during winter,
it turned into a communal project to keep
the village children out of the woods
until abandoned traps could be
picked up by the adults.

Nandru recruited the older children
to trim down the grass and the younger ones
to run in circles trampling it all flat.

First he pumped water until the stone tank
for the livestock was overflowing all over the ground.
Then he organized a bucket chain to add more water
to places where the pump couldn't easily reach.

Victor kept an eye on the project as he visited
the village regularly to attend the whole mess of
concerns left behind by the abrupt banishment of Artúr.

Before long, the new attraction had drawn in
not just the children but the adults as well,
especially the courting couples.

The inevitable trickle of twisted ankles
and sprained wrists began, bringing people
to Victor and Igor for treatment.

It didn't help that so few of the villagers
had proper skates, even ones made from
wood or bone instead of good steel, but
several victims complained of stumbling which
sent Victor out to examine the lay of the ice.

"Look at these lumps," he pointed out
to Nandru. "They're tripping people."

"It's from the grass underneath, and
using the buckets," Nandru said. "Ice
on the ground doesn't form up all flat
the way it does on a pond or a river, but
like you said, nobody can fall through."

"Just see if you can figure out how to
smooth some of the surface. Take care
to keep your lungs warm too," Victor said,
reaching to tug Nandru's scarf up
over his nose and mouth.

"Yes, mazil," said Nandru,
voice muffled through the thick wool.

Vladimir looked around at the people
milling about the ice and said, "Perhaps
a temporary fence would help keep the crowd
from getting so thick that they collide. I'm busy
making rope, Nandru, but you could probably
handle something like this ..." He paused
to scratch a design into the ice, sections
roped together so they could be moved,
as for penning sheep and goats to graze.

Imre muttered something about
the poor design of the skates,
and their tendency to slip loose,
then wandered off to his forge.

The next time Victor checked the field,
it was as sleek as a mirror.

"How in the world did you manage this?"
Victor asked, impressed by the change.

"We used planes and scrapers to shave off
the high spots, and then polished it with
hot bricks," Nandru said with a grin.
"It's like polishing winter itself!"

Victor looked around at the trains of children where
older siblings were towing the younger ones
with a scarf or a scrap of rope.

Ilona had fenced herself off in a corner where
she doggedly tried to master the steel blades
that Imre had actually fastened to a pair
of old boots with horseshoe nails.

Several people had rigged a pulley
much like for a ferry -- probably borrowed
from a hay hoist not needed in this season --
to tow a sleigh back and forth so the old and infirm
could enjoy the ice alongside their families.

The portable fences cobbled up by Nandru
at Vladimir's suggestion worked beautifully
to funnel people onto and then off of the ice
so they didn't crash into each other as often.

Igor stood at the exit in case of injuries,
most of which needed no more than
a supportive wrap and a warning
to stay off it for a day or two.

"Well done," Victor said to Nandru as they
watched the villagers at their new sport.

On the ice, Bogdana gave a rare cackle of glee
as she rode the sleigh with Adam in her lap,
red shawl flapping behind them like wings.

* * *

Notes:

You can built your own backyard ice rink and make a smooth surface in various ways, such as using a plane.

Ice skating dates back thousands of years, and ice skates have evolved a lot since then.

Ice chairs may be propelled by sticks or by a person. In this case, a winch has been used similar to a cable ferry. This patent shows how a boat or sleigh can be hauled back and forth.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-04 03:35 am (UTC)
thnidu: Lucy bright and bold. Lucida Bright font, boldface: backslash, small-o, slash: YAY!! (yay)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Lovely!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-04 03:49 am (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
Yay, problem-solving and ice skating!

Favorite parts--

Date: 2015-12-04 04:56 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I have to say that I love this whole story. It's so vividly illustrative of the NEW thinking that the mazil and Igor brought, and how that attitude has permeated the village in a little under two years.

First, Nandru is a teenager, about the age when modern ones are looking for their first 'real job' outside home/family/neighborhood tasks. There's no real /system/ for figuring this out, yet Nandru is put in charge of the project as well. He gets the responsibility, AND the credit, because when the first attempt revealed a problem- the uneven surface-- Victor took the time to acknowledge the problem and encourage him.

The villagers did more than just enjoy the kids' work, though, they pitched in with specific skills and suggestions and still kept the project as entirely Nandru's.

It's also clear that as the rink got safer to use, more and more of the kids were allowed to spend their free time there, which also showed trust in Nandru's ability to keep an eye on them.

Most of the literature of the time was about /meeting the exacting standards/ imposed from top down, whether by the mazil, the beekeeper, a parent, or an older sibling. I love that the whole village has ditched "one right way" thinking in favor of "How do we solve this?"

Now, I'm REALLY looking forward to prompting for the spring travelers who are looking for apprentices; some may be stunned, and some may be horrified. (May the latter be forced to buy from a certain vendor of inferior teas!)

This isn't a long-term project, though I can imagine many, many disappointed faces when the rink begins to thaw in the spring, but it has the potential to become a yearly tradition.

Re: Favorite parts--

Date: 2015-12-04 01:19 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
LOL-I wasn't clear: there was no /systematic/ answer to the problem of "how to make an ice rink." It was given to Nandru as-is, rather than with a how-to-list.

Other than that, yeah, Nandru is in an odd place because he's on his own, but half-supervised by practically every adult in the village. They're looking for places he'll fit, not simply shoving him into the first job and leaving him there.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-04 05:34 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
I like this a lot. And planes are my favorite kind of tool. Not used quite as often as drills and screwdrivers, but much more satisfying.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-04 05:47 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
I love the idea of using hot bricks to smooth the surface! Like a low-tech Zamboni...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-05 11:29 am (UTC)
gingicat: drawing of me based on wedding photo (Default)
From: [personal profile] gingicat
I wonder if the next innovation from Imre might be "can I find leather that is both flexible enough to lace tightly and rigid enough to keep ankles from flopping?" ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-05 04:42 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Like! I like this very much.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-12-04 02:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
Nice. I like the way people work together in this 'verse. (And, actually, most of your settings.)

Yay!

Date: 2015-12-04 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you enjoyed the social aspects.

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ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
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