Posts Tagged With: photos of frost

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”:

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

As Long as Winter Holds Its Breath

Clear arctic air came screaming in from the north this week, riding a penetrating, relentless wind. A swirl of damp, mild air made a brief appearance, a lost visitor from warmer climes, but it was quickly torn to shreds, squeezed dry by winter’s cold bony hands, and sent back southward with a mighty blast. For hours and hours the wind blew until, somewhere in the middle of the night (it’s hard to know exactly when because the power was out), it stopped.

The fullest, deepest, coldest part of the season was here and, in the morning, it seemed to be resting. Not a breeze stirred. The sun shined bright but the blue sky was deceptive — it was cold out there. I usually say it ain’t cold if your boogers ain’t froze, but I didn’t feel like actually checking myself. I did notice, though, as I drank my coffee and watched the birds at the feeders, that a little puff of steam came out every time a blue jay pooped and that’s good enough for me.

With surface temperatures matching that of the still air, at well below zero (that would be well below zero to our metric friends), and the extra moisture left behind by that silly warm front, there was only one appropriate thing to do.

I got dressed, went out, and looked for frost.

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Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Temporary Embellishments

There is a stillness to a calm winter day that no other season can match. The profound, stunning silence can make you believe you’ve gone deaf — at least until a tree pops from the cold, shattering the quiet — and the frigid, crystalline air can seriously create the impression your nose has caught fire. Days like this are part of the price to be paid to live in a place like this, but they are also part of the reward.

I joke in the fall about seeing the pretty leaves twice; once in their autumnal glory on the hillsides and again, a few days after they drop, as they clog the grates across the spillway. I also joke about waiting for the last oak to drop its leaves so I can be done with clearing those grates, but I never know just when that will be so I try to keep my sense of humor when those leaves are still coming out from under the ice.

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Categories: nature, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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