A beautiful surprise

We awoke to the coldest morning of this young winter with ambient temperatures of -8 F and a windchill of -24 F. Inside the house, the furnace churned constantly in a struggle to raise the temperature in our living room from its overnight 59 degrees. It was the kind of morning where you keep the drapes drawn in a vain hope to insulate the house to maximum levels. I opened the curtains on the one window where I knew early morning sunlight would be streaming.

As my son and I sat in the living room under a blanket waiting for the house temperature to rise, we were treated to a beautiful surprise. The frigid air, combined with high humidity and a very low dew point, had recrystallized the snow on the roof, and each breeze would bring thousands of layered flakes in a glistening shower through the sunlight.

By late morning, it was time to bring our leftover food scraps (bread, carrots, and apples) out for the neighborhood animals. Walking around to our feeding area on the south side of the house, I could see all the fallen ice crystals covering the bed of snow. It looks as if someone had spread translucent potato flakes over our entire yard.

Ice crystals covered most of the trees and shrubs that hadn’t yet been warmed by the early morning sun.

Seed heads of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ were particularly beautiful covered in crystals.

The thin branches and buds of Prunus cerasus ‘North Star’ (cherry) gleamed auburn through the flakes.

As the sun’s rays began to warm the frost on the neighbor’s Betula nigra (river birch), watery ornaments blazed along every branch.

The tiniest of crystals hung from the descending catkins of Betula populifolia ‘Whitespire’.

Today was one of those days where Mother Nature decides to strut her stuff, and we were more than happy to take in the show.

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