Walkin' in my Winter Wonderland: Frost Poems and Pictures
When Mother Nature hits us with a sudden blast of cold, at least in this part of the country, she sometimes softens the blow with an indescribably beautiful phenomenon called "hoar frost." Some call it frozen dew, or white frost.
According to Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, hoarfrost is:
hoarfrost [ˈhɔːˌfrɒst] n (Earth Sciences / Physical Geography) a deposit of needle-like ice crystals formed on the ground by direct condensation at temperatures below freezing point.
While the National Snow and Ice Data Center defines hoarfrost as:
Hoarfrost: a deposit of interlocking ice crystals (hoar crystals) formed by direct sublimation on objects, usually those of small diameter freely exposed to the air, such as tree branches, plant stems and leaf edges, wires, poles, etc., which surface is sufficiently cooled, mostly by nocturnal radiation, to cause the direct sublimation of the water vapor contained in the ambient air.
Origin of the name
As you can see from Anne Burgess' lovely photo of hoar frost on grass (on the right), the frozen dew is deposited and frozen in layer after layer of needle-like ice crystals, giving the object a rime or beard of frost.
Perhaps a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet, but "hoar frost," even with its dry and scientific explanations, perfectly describes the trees and fences bearded with this ephemeral winter joy. In Old English, the word hoar refers to an old man's beard:
hoar - Old English: har "gray, venerable, old," the connecting notion being gray hair, from P.Gmc. *khairaz, from PIE *koi- "to shine." German retains the word as a title of respect, in Herr. Of frost, it is recorded in O.E. (hoar-frost is late 13c.), expressing the resemblance of the white feathers of frost to an old man's beard.
Breathe on bearded post and rail, frost crackles faintly, swiftly fades,
Leaving icy dew behind, beaded, gleaming in the sun;
One puff of breeze on crystal rime, frost feathers shatter, flutter, flee,
Borne on high to melt in sunlight, winter glory, quickly gone...
Lace against an azure sky,
Marshmallow frosting on each branch -
Winter's cotton-candy coating -
Softens twig, and leaf, and prickle;
Bearding line, and pole, and twiglet,
With delicately frozen grace;
Faintest tint of rose on azure, lilac streaks the hazy sky,
Mother Nature's chilly present, feast for shutter fills the eye,
Quickly capture fleeting grace, by softest zephyr borne away;
Winter's gift, her frosty treasure, fading with the too-short day...
...and one, in fun, for Flora
I do not like the snows that fell;
The reasons why, I'll quickly tell:
Yes, this I know, and know right well,
I do not like the snows that fell;
The fluffy flakes that downward drifted,
Over road and lane have sifted,
Coating lane, and path, and stair
With slippery frosting, everywhere;
Some, they dream of skis and sleigh;
I wish that it would melt away;
Snow creeps in each unguarded crack,
Sneaks up my pant-legs, down my back;
Mitts and scarf shield hands and nose,
And clomping boots protect my toes
While I slip and slide in cold un-grace
To keep chilled self upright and safe;
I'd like to move to warmer climes,
And leave this drifted stuff behind;
Somewhere sand and palm trees beckon,
Thatched huts are for me, I reckon;
I'd rather surf and sail, by heck,
But I must go and sweep the deck!
Text and photos by Elle Fredine
The photos in this hub were all taken by the author at about 3:30 pm, at the end of the back lane, looking across the fields, towards the Peace River Valley.
© 2011 RedElf