I’ve been working on a difficult post that needs a lot of research and I knew I wouldn’t have it done in time to post today, so I thought I’d do another to show you what winter is doing here in New Hampshire. So far we’ve had plenty of cold but only a dusting of snow, as the above photo shows.
This photo was taken on the same day that the first one was. That was how fast the snow melted.
But as I’ve said, we’ve had plenty of cold so winter is creeping rather than howling in this year. This photo is of the kind of puddle ice that is paper thin and full of oxygen and makes tinkling sounds when you break it. This example had the silhouette of a flying eagle in it, and I’ve circled it so you could see it. All I have to do is hear this kind of ice breaking and I’m immediately transported back to when I was 9 or 10 years old. I used to love riding my bike through puddles with this kind of ice on them in the spring. It was always a sign that, before too long, school would be letting out for the summer.
Streams freeze from the banks in toward the middle and this one has started doing just that.
Anywhere water splashes, ice will form.
Rising and falling water levels decorate the edges of stones with ice baubles. When you see this happening you know it won’t be long before the stream has frozen over. The stones have lost any heat they might have had stored from the sun.
It’s no different along the Ashuelot River; anything that water splashes on is coated in ice.
Ice needles are poking up out of the soil. A lot has to happen for ice needles to form. When the air temperature is below 32 degrees F right at the soil surface and the soil and groundwater remain thawed, hydrostatic pressure can force the groundwater, sometimes super cooled, out of the soil where it freezes instantly into a “needle.” As more water is forced out of the soil the process is repeated over and over, and each needle grows in length because of more water freezing at its base. Often these needles freeze together to form ribbons, and that is what this photo shows.
One of my favorite places to find winter is in this man made canyon, hacked out of the rock when the Cheshire railroad was built in the 1800s. It’s an endless source of fascination and wonder for me because of the unusual plants that grow there. Winter had already started before I got there.
The sun doesn’t reach down beyond the tops of these 40-50 foot high walls in very many places but even where it did it didn’t throw enough heat to melt the ice. The ice here can be very beautiful and is often colored in shades of blue, green and yellow, stained by minerals and vegetation.
When you walk through here in summer you hear the constant drip of groundwater, and in winter you see as well as hear it.
I’ve put a red circle around the spider who found his own Everest. He’s just to the lower right of center. As often happens I didn’t see him until I saw the photo.
There are thousands of liverworts living here and many are slowly being entombed in the ice. There’s a good chance that they won’t be seen again until spring.
Mosses too, are being encased in ice. Life on these walls is tough, but these plants can take it.
For those who might be thinking big deal-a few icicles, this photo from last year shows what those few icicles will have become by February. They grow as big as tree trunks, and people come here to learn how to climb them. For me it’s interesting to see how they start, and then how they grow.
What a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel. ~John Burroughs
Thanks for stopping in.