Sing Hallelujah! The mercury rose to a very welcomed 46 degrees this afternoon. For three-quarters into the month of January in New England, it was a heat wave. Sure beats the other morning of waking up to nine degrees below zero (disregarding the wind chill factor which we decided not to test for ourselves). The Antarctic Shelf may be fracturing and the Arctic shrinking, but in this current climate–we've been cold.
It is not hard to appreciate nature's beauty from the confines of a wood stove heated house, but sometimes it is necessary to brave the elements to capture the artistry of ol' Jack Frost.
Hmmm…you might say: who is this JACK FROST and how did he get his icy powers?
He probably originated in Viking mythology as Jokul Frosti, meaning “icicle frost”. His father, Kari, god of the winds, was known to be a philistine, but young Jokul Frosti was an elf-like creature with an artistic streak. His handiwork could be seen earlier in the year when he changed the colour of autumn leaves on trees. But come wintertime his true talents came to light in the exquisite jewel-like engravings he etched on exceedingly cold nights.
When the myth of Jokul Frosti became ingrained in British folklore he became known as Jack Frost.
However, in Russia, frost and snow is created by an old man called Father Frost, a blacksmith who could bind water and earth together with silver chains. And in Germany the culprit is Mother Frost, a cold, rather austere woman who could send snow showers by shaking out the white feathers from her bed.
These days, double glazing has killed off the work of Jack Frost on windows. But for single panes of glass, all that is needed is exceedingly cold air on the outside and damp air on the inside. As the nights grow colder, the inside of the window pane gets cold enough for water vapour in the air to form ice crystals on the glass. As (
the ice crystals creep across the frozen glass surface they develop stunning feathery patterns guided by tiny scratches, dust, bits of dirt or other imperfections on the window.
While outside on the front porch, admiring the sheer beauty of these fleeting frozen stalactites, a family relative comes plowing into the driveway tooting the horn to announce her arrival. In a hurry, she gets out of the car and approaches the entryway. I merely point to the incredible icicles, as if to say "Look at how beautiful they are", when she, all-too-quickly, grabs the snow shovel by the door and whacks them all off. "That will take care of that!" she says.
Oh—the joys of country sensibilities………
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