A Vulgar Miracle

April 1, 2010 at 9:13 am (By Amba)

This is what I found when I opened my freezer this morning:

Pilgrims devoted to the god Priapus should be beating a path to my door about now.

And somewhere Ice Cube is saying, “I toldja so!”

If you think you can explain how this happened, have at it.  Also:  Caption Contest!

P.S.  Is there some connection between Priapus and April Fool’s Day?  Bet there is.  It’s that time of year.  But, believe me or not, I didn’t do this.  I wouldn’t know how.  If it’s an April Fool’s joke, it’s a (micro)cosmic one.


  1. Melinda said,

    “It saw the salad dressing.”

  2. Maxwell said,

    “Is that a spine on your surface, or are you just happy to see me?”

    Also, explanation.

  3. Peter Hoh said,

    It used to happen quite frequently at our house. Now we make in a covered ice cube tray and it doesn’t happen any more.

    The angle was nearly always the same.

    Years ago, I asked a scientist who pretty much asserted that what I was describing could not have happened. I collected a few examples and showed them to the physics teacher at the school where I worked. He later found a journal entry that addressed the phenomenon.

    Here’s a good link:

    I found the following site the first time I did a search for ice spikes:

  4. amba12 said,

    Holy cow, Peter. I had no idea this was a common phenomenon — never saw or heard of it before — or that there was a scientific explanation of it out there. You really do learn something new ever day.

  5. Ron said,

    It was the viagra I put in the water they used to make the ice swan at the wedding reception…it got funny looks, but the maid of honor slipped me an extra c-note, so I did it…

  6. jason said,

    I’m laughing, Annie! It’s so predictable and common a phenomenon that I thought you were joking, pulling an April Fool’s joke on us. Thank you for a huge smile today.

  7. El Pollo Real said,

    Despite all the scientific explanation it still says erection. Call it a springtime miracle.

  8. wj said,

    Clearly beauty is not the only thing that is in the eye of the beholder.

    Now me, I looked at it and thought “Ah, winter caltrop! And self clearing, too.”

  9. amba12 said,

    ! It’s so predictable and common a phenomenon

    Jason, apparently it is more or less likely to happen depending on the mineral content of your water (it happens most easily of all with distilled water, according to one of Peter’s links). On top of that, add the miserable little Murphy unit refrigerators I had most of the time in my Greenwich Village garret, with little more than a rectangular tin can for a freezer unit. I’ve never seen it! And this is the first time in 3 years with a normal refrigerator.

  10. amba12 said,

    wj — I had to Google that, and even then it didn’t help much. Caltrop is apparently both a weapon and a plant — a spike used to puncture tires?? Please help!

  11. wj said,

    Actually, it started out as a way to impede horses. I hadn’t heard of it being used on tires (although I suppose it is some kind of ancestor of the spike strip…).

    The classic one is a set of four equal length spikes. The spikes are joined so that, when you throw it on the ground, three form a tripod and the fourth sticks up. (Geometry does have practical applications!) The second Wikipedia illustration is not too bad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltrop

    So, when a lot of them are scattered on a field before a battle, any horse (or guy on foot) who runs across the field will step on one of them and get a nasty puncture wound in the sole. Makes it very difficult to keep focused on charging the enemy (the guys who scattered them).

    This one, of course, would simply rest on the ice, with a point sticking up for someone to step on. And happily, come the thaw, it would melt. Because the trouble with caltrops, like land mines, is that once the battle is over they are still lying there to make trouble for anyone else who might walk by.

  12. amba12 said,

    Aha. Thus “self-clearing.” Thanks!!

  13. wj said,

    My mind is a junk heap: full of little know, and mostly useless, information. ;-)

  14. Danny said,

    I’m fascinated by this post and discussion. Then I realized, as my therapist would say, “it’s not about the ice,” it’s because it’s a refreshing break of bipartisan curiosity, wonder, and humor among your readers instead of the frequent left/right swiping. It’s the ice spike saying “can’t we all get along?”

    P.S. Do you really use distilled water to make ice? Why? Should I? I’ve only ever used it to put in a steam iron.

  15. amba12 said,

    Danny, heavens no, I don’t use distilled water. In one of the fascinating scientific links provided by Peter Hoh above in comment 3, it says that ice spikes form most easily if you make ice with distilled water, and that it varies with tap water in different areas based I guess on their mineral content.

    It was such a wonderful April Fool’s natural joke to find when I opened the freezer this morning, particularly because it was utterly new to me.

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