Hoar Frost

Sometimes, even winter holds its breath and, in the cold stillness of a winter night, water vapor changes from gas to solid on contact with chilled surfaces, constructing crystal matrices resembling feathers that last until the sun hits them or somebody coughs.

The adjective “hoary” is sometimes defined as “gray or white, as with age, and in some cases worthy of veneration”. It can also mean “old, overused and trite” but with frost it supposedly refers to the appearance of an old man’s beard.

Old and overused, maybe, but trite?

Old and overused, maybe, but trite?

Tomorrow will have one minute more light than today, and when tomorrow becomes yesterday there will be one minute more as we begin tilting slowly back toward the sun. Meanwhile, it is winter, and even winter can hold its breath.

Yukon Jack, “The Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors” and purported to be the regimental liqueur of the South Alberta Light Horse regiment of the Canadian Army, claims a “taste born of hoary nights…” which probably means it was too dang cold out to go find some better whiskey, so someone mixed what they had with some honey in an old turpentine barrel and hoped for the best.

Something else born of hoary nights is the poetry of Robert Service. There are worse ways to spend the next nine minutes of your life than watching this video recitation of “The Cremation of Sam McGee”:

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Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “Hoar Frost

  1. Buggy D

    Absolutely beautiful photos Quill! Happy New Year and may the frost be with you–or something like that.

  2. Woolybugah

    Great pic’s and a “VERY COOL” tale masterfully told.

  3. We don’t get frost like that here much. Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it.

    Seen a lot of the stuff coating my windshield so for this winter. No where near as pretty.

    I tried to grow an old man’s beard this winter. Did well till day 7 when I had to decide whether to shave off the beard or just peel off all the skin to make the itching stop.

  4. I have to give you credit on your progress toward the old man part, sir. That second (and sometimes 3rd) week can be tough, especially if you have to be in polite company. Some folks don’t appreciate seeing someone else have a good scratch.

    Good hoar frost isn’t all that common here, a couple times a season maybe. The other morning was exceptional, with those some of those feathers almost two inches long, and I have to say no frost of any kind on the windshield is any fun.

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