Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Icy, frosty mornings

Temperatures hovered around 25 F this morning, making it an excellent time to look at the small crystals that covered the pastures and orchards. 
A fog had settled across our area last night.  As the night turned colder, the fog formed crystals on the foliage which is also known as hoarfrost.  One could easily imagine the frost fairies creating these magical scenes.
If you look closely, some plants have tiny hairs across their leaf surfaces.  This allows the plant to continue to thrive when other plants go to sleep for the winter.  An herb called 'Lambs Ear' is a good example of this furry quality.

Another interesting feature is Needle Ice.  Ever note an area in the soil that appears to have been lightly churned just after a freeze?  This could have been the result of the water droplets in the soil freezing into elongated crystals.  These build and force their way through the soil particles.  Those that break the surface look like tiny glass rods or needles.

This picture also shows the power of ice.  These tiny rods also lift and push rocks and other things to the surface.  One can have a cleared field in late summer, only to discover that come Spring it appears that one is 'growing rocks'.  These little crystals can break down walls, bust up roadways, and do all sorts of damage.  Fortunately we have none of those issues so we can just enjoy how pretty they can be.  As a side note, when looking at needle ice, also look for Frost Flowers.  Similar to needle ice, the frost flower forms where the needle ice comes together and curls a bit to form a flower.  If I have the good fortune to find one, I'll take a picture to share with you.

want to learn a little more about soil and ice?  check this out:

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