A Water Droplet's Journey

rain drops create ripples on a pond
Rain drops create ripples on a pond.

NPS Photo F. Schaller

A Water Droplet's Journey: Guide Imagery for Glacier Water Color Art Project

You are going to go on a journey. Please close your eyes and keep them closed until the journey is over. I want you to imagine that you are a water droplet.

It is a cold winter day in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. You are a very small water droplet floating around in a cloud. It is very, very wet and cold in your cloud home. There are many other water droplets floating around with you.

You feel a cold wind blowing in your face. It is very strong. You feel yourself being pushed around by this wind. This powerful wind blows tiny specks of dust up into your cloud home and they start bumping into you. It’s getting colder and colder. The outside of your body starts to freeze. Little arms of feathery ice start growing from your sides. Now you have six beautiful lacey arms growing longer and longer. You have become a snowflake – a beautiful ice crystal different from all your friends. You have also gotten heavier and you can’t seem to stay floating in your cloud. Gently you drift out of the cloud slowly dropping to the earth below. In every direction that you look there are thousands of other snowflakes falling. It is very white.

Everyone lands on a high mountaintop in a depression in the rock called a cirque. More and more snow falls on top of you and it is getting dark. You’re starting to feel crowded and it is hard to breathe. All the weight on top of you starts to break your beautiful lacey arms. You’re changing shape again. Now you are smoother and rounded. Your old shape is gone and most of the air around you has gotten squeezed out as well. All your neighbors are closing in on you.

Water starts to seep beside you from above and then freezes. You can barely tell where you end and your neighbors begin. Everyone has joined shapes and now you have become a much bigger, more solid ice crystal. You are about the size of a softball. Time seems to stop as you are just lost in the darkness and cannot move. You lose track of time. It’s cold, quiet and dark.

Finally, one day, you feel a tiny movement. You start sliding downhill very, very slowly with all your neighbors. You are part of a massive glacier – a moving river of ice. Ever so slowly you creep down the mountainside. Something slams into you hard. It’s a rock that you have picked up. This rock scraps against the mountain and sounds like fingernails across a blackboard. It is very loud. After a few years of this endless grind, you find yourself back in the middle of the glacier. Back in the dark, cold and quiet.

Crash! A huge crash wakes you up. You feel a jolt and a wide crack opens beside you. Cold air rushes past. It’s getting lighter and lighter. The ground begins to shake. Crack, a huge crack has opened beneath you and you feel yourself falling. You can’t tell where you’re going, as you twist over and over. Water splashes in your face and you bounce up and down a few times before you start floating on the ocean. You are part of an iceberg in Glacier Bay.

What’s in store for you? Will you be a resting place for a harbor seal or eagle? Will you melt and become part of the ocean, to be swallowed by a whale or a salmon? Will you evaporate up into the clouds? What will happen to me now?

Now I would like for you, too slowly open your eyes and to sit back quietly.

We will be using a piece of that iceberg from our story to paint a picture of your visit to Glacier Bay. Remember that this ice and water that you will be using is hundreds of years old and you will be taking it home with you in the form of a painting.


Last updated: July 19, 2018

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