Frost Poems and Pictures
My Halloween tree has shed its last leaves, now bare and ready for the fall’s finale. The end of grey and tan, ocher and rust. The snows have come. Sifting down in the cold, pre-dawn light, the little specks glide past my window, covering roof and eaves in chilly splendor.
We woke today to a transformation — winter is once again laying her frosty palette of pristine whites, silver grays, and sparkling crystal over the world.
Fields and ditches are choked with ice. The creek which feeds our little lake was flowing free just yesterday, still sparkling and babbling in the autumn sunlight, the reeds along its banks glowing red and bronze.
Autumn blue and rusty brown reflecting from its depths, the water still swirled and flowed, too deep and fast-moving to freeze ‘til winter turns down our northern world’s thermostat a bit further.
For now, the snow is only fine, soft specks. but those specks keep falling, They keep adding up, settling on railings and chimney-stacks.
Soon the still-green grass will be blanketed in white. All too soon, this will be my view, morning and evening. Snow, snow, and more snow.
The light will flee ’til it’s frosty return in February, leaving us with shorter, greyer days. The last two photos featured in this article were taken at 3:30 in the afternoon, on a very chilly, late November day last year. An hour later, dusk had fallen.
Winter came early that year, and stayed late.
This year we’ve had an unexpected reprieve — a lovely, gentle, colorful fall. But now, winter is on her way in earnest.
An Ode To Winter & Tribute To Ogden Nash
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 pavement 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!
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 a 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: “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.
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. 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.
But to the non-scientific eye, hoar-frost is a magical thing. A swiftly passing, ephemeral treat. All it takes is a tiny puff of wind or the lightest touch, and it is gone. Blown away in crystal fragments.
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…