Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 50s F. Sunday, the weather people said, would be even better with wall to wall sunshine and temperatures in the 60s. In New Hampshire such predictions for a December day are enough to get people really excited, but unfortunately a fog rolled in overnight and at 10:30 am on Sunday our landscape still looked like the photo above.
Not only had fog rolled in but cold as well, so this wasn’t just ordinary fog. No, this was freezing fog.
Everything was coated in rime including the roads if you could believe the road watchers. I didn’t happen to see any icy roads but maybe I was just lucky.
I had planned the night before to show you a June day in December with sunshine, blue skies, and green grass, so I had to come up with a plan B. If there’s one thing you learn as a nature blogger it’s that you have to be flexible and take what nature gives. Make all the plans you want, but nature will do as nature pleases and you’ll either go along or be left out of the game. Anyhow, in a pinch I thought I’d climb one of our many hills to see if I could get above the fog. When I reached the bottom of Hewe’s Hill in Swanzey I was presented with the view in the photo above.
This white pine (Pinus strobus) at the trail head really was white, but with frost.
The trail was wet but easily climbed. This is a quick, easy climb and that’s why I chose it. I was afraid the sun would come out and burn off all the mist before I could get up above it, which is exactly what happened when I tried this last year on Mount Caesar in Swanzey. It’s a bit of a letdown to climb as fast as you can only to finally reach the summit and huff and puff as you watch the last wisps of mist disappear before you can even turn your camera on.
I didn’t expect to see any spider webs because I thought any sensible spider would be doing whatever spiders do in the winter like maybe sleeping, but there were spider webs to be seen. They looked more like someone’s kite string had tangled in the bushes than the beautiful crotchet like spider webs you’d see in the corners of the Addams Family mansion but there they were; strings of ice.
The trees wore long stockings made of tree skirt moss (Anomodon attenuates.)
Blue turkey tail fungi (Trametes versicolor) decorated the logs and fallen branches.
A slice of bright sunlight made me think that I had spent too much time dilly dallying along the trail and had once again lost my chance to get above the fog.
In fact my chances weren’t looking at all promising. The mist I saw from the top of Mount Caesar last year burned off quicker than I ever would have believed it could.
But finally there it was, and this was the first glimpse. I had made it, but only just in time.
Is this what a forest fire looks like from above, I wondered?
The cloud was beautiful as it washed through the valley like a stream but silently, without even so much as a sigh.
Careful, we don’t want to take the fast way down. It would most certainly be our last step.
I visited with my friends the toad skin lichens (Lasallia papulosa) while watching the mist roll on. They’re very shy and only grow on hilltops, but since I always lean on their rock when I come here I’ve gotten to know them well. They were being woken by the first rays of the sun and that made me wonder how much light a lichen needs. I know that they produce their own food through photosynthesis but beyond that I know very little about their light requirements. I think this one is one of the most unusual and beautiful of our lichens.
All too soon the mist started to yield to the power of the sun and evaporate.
And then it was gone, just like that, with nothing left but a soft haze, and I sat beside the toad skin lichens wondering about all of the people who had missed it. I wondered if they knew how peaceful it was up here, and I wondered how many knew that most of their troubles and fears would vanish like the mist had if they just spent more of their time in places like this one.
I knew how the person who blazed the trees must have felt when he or she painted this smiley face because I had smiled myself all the way down the trail. And who wouldn’t, after such an interesting and beautiful morning?
This is the same view that appears in the 4th photo in this post just two hours later, so I am able to show you a June day in December with sunshine, blue skies, and green grass after all.
Glance into the world just as though time were gone: and everything crooked will become straight to you. ~Friedrich Nietzsche
Thanks for stopping in.