The cold and snow make us pause.  We can’t hurry and just do the things we normally do — walking on ice-covered paths takes attention and concentration, and five to ten minutes are the minimum just to bundle up to step out in sub-zero temperatures.  But pausing gives us time to observe and to appreciate.  This bubble becomes frozen in a near instant, with crystals forming on the inside and refracting the morning light as the sun rises over the new fallen snow.  Many other bubbles broke as they landed, too fragile to absorb an impact on the soft snow.  And even this bubble was short-lived.  The wind picked up and it shattered quickly; how happy I was that it commanded my attention for a short span.

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Last weekend was especially cold.  Temperatures dropped and the wind blew.  The snow that had fallen remained, and the lake was frozen.  Walking along the shoreline, I saw this leaf resting on the ice.  As the time went by I saw frost forming all along its edges, outlining it carefully as if Mother Nature was painting each crystal in its place –  so delicate, and yet so very temporary too.

This past week we’ve had mild temperatures at night coupled with unusually high dew points resulting in a few mornings of fog — the kind that hangs around all day, never burns off, and makes the day gray and gloomy.  It’s not a very usual occurrence here in Minnesota, so it’s always noticeable when it’s foggy for a day or two.  That was the case until Friday night when the temperature dropped down to 24 degrees and the air was still thick with moisture.  Even before daylight on Saturday it was evident that Mother Nature was gracing everything with hoarfrost.  The moisture that was clinging to trees, plants, and even fences had frozen in the air.  It was a wonderfully beautiful sight — our brown grass was dusted in sparkling white, and all the trees and branches were lined in frost.  Even more unusual was that it remained this way until midday.  The sun tried to break through the low clouds, and when the wind picked up ever so slightly there was a cascade of ice crystals that would fall down from the trees overhead.  I hiked through a local park and the landscape looked like it was photographed with infrared film.  I loved the way the frost outlined the individual links in this chain-link fence and the leaf that was captured within its squares.