One February day, high up in the Smoky Mountains, a father and his 4 sons pulled their car to the shoulder of the winding, steep road to admire the majestic beauty of a tumbling waterfall on the side of the mountain. The water fell from high above their heads – from where, they could not see. The powerful force plunged down the vertical, brown rock and crashed intensely to the earth. Then calmly but rapidly, the water carried on into a peaceful stream flowing far out into the distance.
Beautiful, wet snowflakes fell softly from the sky, making a blanket of snow on the ground. The brown trees were so numerous and dense, their branches were indiscernible from one tree to another – only defined by a white line of snow that had accumulated enough to graze the upper half of each limb.
The freezing temperature had caused a lavish display of crystal icicles, each one unique in shape and size. At the base of the waterfall, some icicles froze into tiny droplets, building on one another until it formed a giant snow cone bubbling up from the ground. Some froze as they slid down the side of the flat mountain forming a smooth layer of shiny glass over the rock. But the most amazing icicles formed at the very top of the waterfall where the plummeting water had frozen over itself, never making it to the ground, but rather developing into the thickest, longest blocks of ice the 4 boys had ever seen.
Their immediate goal was to knock the colossal mass of ice from its hold and view the would-be spectacle of its inevitable crash and shatter into the rocks below. The 3 older boys formed snowballs and hurled them at the ice with all their strength. Most did not reach the target and the ones that did made no impact on the mighty ice. The father began to throw, wanting to be a hero to his hopeful sons and although he hit the ice several times, it was a useless battle.
The youngest boy watched his older brothers and father compete to knock the ice down. He knew he could never throw as far as them. After several more minutes of earnest attempts, the father finally called it, “Time to go.” He was answered by defiant grumbles and several shouts of, “One more try!” Eventually the 3 older boys followed their dad back to the car.
The youngest boy did not move. He looked back at the car and then looked at the ice. He bent over and scooped up as much snow as he could into his tiny palm. He clenched his fist. “Come on!” His brother called, growing impatient. The little boy said nothing. He knew all eyes were on him. His heart beat faster as he stared at his target and cocked his arm back. He heaved the snowball forward with all his might and let out a fierce battle cry with the release of his weapon. All eyes watched in amazement as the tiny cluster of snow smashed into the dead center of the ice.
It may have been a gust of wind. It may have been the direction of the water flow at that exact second. It may have been a branch falling, unseen by the eyes below. But at that moment when the little boys' snowball hit the ice, the monstrous block broke loose and fell in what seemed like slow motion. Ice the size and length of 2 cars end to end, plunged down the mountain and exploded into a million pieces when it hit the rock, causing a thunderous thud. The boys watched in stunned silence and then erupted into shouts of cheers and amazement. The little boy held his mouth and eyes wide open as his 3 older brothers hailed him the unlikely hero of the ice.