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Posts Tagged ‘Ice Crystals’

1. Moon Set

The full moon was setting over Half Moon Pond in Hancock early one morning so I took a photo of it with my cell phone. The muted pastel colors were beautiful I thought, but the cell phone’s camera overexposed the moon. Its gray cratered surface was much more visible than is seen here.  A lone ice fisherman’s hut stood on the ice, even though thin ice warnings have been repeated time and again this winter.

2. Red Elderberry Buds

This is the time of year that I start wondering about bud growth and what the trees are doing. I saw some red elderberry buds (Sambucus racemosa) recently that were quite a beautiful sight on a winter day. Though they didn’t have as much purple on the scales as I’ve seen in the past they reminded me of spring.

3. Sap Lines

One reason I’m interested in what buds are doing so early is due to my seeing a photo captioned “The Weird Season” in the local newspaper. It showed two tree tappers tapping trees in a sugar bush, and they said that the sap is running because December was so warm. Though the photo was recent last week we didn’t see 32 degrees or above for a single day, so I doubt the sap ran for long. I suppose though when you have 6000 trees to tap you’re anxious to get started. The above photo shows how tapping is done these days; with a plastic tube running from tree to tree and then to a collection tank or the sugar shack. A vacuum pump helps gravity make sure the sap flows as it should. It’s quicker and easier for the syrup makers and is also more sanitary but I prefer seeing the old steel buckets hanging on the trees.

4. Tap Hole in Maple

There are insects that can make a perfectly round hole in a tree but the above photo shows a tap hole in a maple, drilled last year. It’s about a half inch in diameter and the tree is most likely working to heal it.

5. Rose Hip

The hips of the Alberta wild rose (Rosa acicularis) and the soft downy-rose (Rosa mollis) are the only ones I’ve heard of that have prickles. I’ve never seen them on rugosa rose hips. I’m not sure which these are but the birds haven’t touched a single one of them.

6. Brook Ice

I took a walk along Beaver Brook in Keene to see if there were any ice formations. There were and they had grown quickly.  From the water to the top of the ice was about 3 feet, I’d guess, so this would not be a good hole to fall into.

7. Brook Ice

It’s amazing to think that a river or stream can stop itself with ice. Beaver Brook wasn’t dammed up but I could see how it might easily happen. Last year the brook had so much ice on it that hardly a trickle of water could be heard in places where it is usually quite noticeable. It was if it had frozen solid, right down to its gravel bed.

8. Ice Crystals

For the third time this winter I’ve found very long, sharply pointed ice crystals. Temperature and humidity are said to determine the forms that crystals take but I don’t know why the temperature and humidity this winter would be telling the ice to grow so long and pointed. Humidity seems low but the temperature is 4 degrees above average for the month. This makes 3 months in a row with temperatures above average, and maybe it’s having an effect on the ice. Lake, pond and river ice all seem normal.

9. Frost Crack on Birch

While I was at the brook I saw a yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) with a healed frost crack. Frost cracks happen when the sun warms the tree during the day and the temperature drops quickly at night. If you’re in or near the woods at night in winter you can often hear the trees splitting and cracking, and sometimes it’s as loud as a rifle shot. Frost cracks can heal in the summer when the tree produces a new layer of inner bark to heal the wound but then can crack again in winter. When this repeated healing and cracking happens over the course of a few years the buildup of new tissue can create a frost rib like that seen in the photo.

10. Frullania Liverwort

When it gets cold dark purple, almost black spots appear on the bark of some trees. They are really there all the time but are kind of a reddish color and not quite so noticeable at other times of year when there are so many other things to see. Those who think they’ve never seen a liverwort might want to stop and take a closer look at these dark blotches because they are Frullania liverworts, one of the few liverworts that can thrive in dry places.

11. Frullania Liverwort

There are about 800 species of Frullania liverworts and many grow as epiphytes on the bark of trees and shrubs where the humidity is high. Epiphytic plants take nothing from the host plants they grow on, so this liverwort does no harm to trees. It can look very lacy and fern like at times. Sometimes it reminds me of the beautiful fan corals found on distant coral reefs, as the above example does.

12. Frullania Liverwort 2

The very small leaves of the Frullania liverwort were strung together like beads. Some Frullania liverworts are said to be very fragrant so I’ll have to smell some and see.

13. Candle Flame Lichen

This crabapple tree was encrusted with fringed candle flame lichen (Candelaria fibrosa.) This lichen seems to be trying to tell me that certain lichens prefer certain trees. So far I’ve seen it only on crabapple trees.

14. Candle Flame Lichen 2

Fringed candle flame lichen is extremely small and looks like a tiny pile of scrambled eggs as you get closer. From a distance it can look like a yellow powder on the tree’s bark.

15. Script Lichen

It seems that script lichen is another lichen that produces spores in winter; at least that’s when I see their squiggly spore bearing bodies (Apothecia) appear.

16. Script Lichen

A close look shows that the apothecia sit on the grayish body (Thallus) of this lichen, making them look as if they were beautifully painted on rather than etched into the surface. I think this example is the common script lichen (Graphis scripta.) There is another script lichen called the asterisk lichen (Arthonia radiata) that I’ve always wanted to see. It has apothecia that look just like asterisks.

17. Lily Pad

Someone found a water lily leaf in the river and put it on a stone as if it were a beautiful sculpture on a plinth. I loved it for its veins and its rich red-brown color and its missing pieces, and I left it not knowing or caring how long I’d sat beside it. Where does the time go?

Go to the winter woods: listen there; look, watch, and ‘the dead months’ will give you a subtler secret than any you have yet found in the forest. ~ Fiona Macleod

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1. 15 Below

So what do you do when nature breaks off a piece of the polar vortex and the temperature drops to -15 F (-26 C)?

2. Ice Crystasls

If you’re like me you take pictures of thermometers and the frost crystals on your windows.

 3. Ice Crystal

There were plenty of crystals and I wasn’t going anywhere for a while, because my truck’s battery was dead.

4. Ice Crystals

But too much of a good thing can lead to boredom and, since the sun had finally warmed it up to +15 F, it was time to take a little walk.

5. Wind Sculpted Snow

Not only did I feel the sting of the wind, I could see what it had created while it had howled during the night.

6. Puddle Ice

The puddle in the driveway froze solid when it was about 3 inches deep and then cracked to pieces.

 7. Crack in Pond Ice

Pond ice was also cracking and sounded like rifle shots. A crack caused by a change in temperature is called a thermal crack. Apparently the weak sunshine could warm ice, but it wasn’t doing much to warm me.

8. Footprints to Pine

The snow under a white pine isn’t as deep as it is in the open, so a critter decided to explore.  It could have been the rabbit that lives in this area, but it was too cold to stand around wondering.

 9. Folded Snow

The wind can do some strange things to snow. Here it had folded it.

 10. Snow Wave 2

On the corner of a building the wind sculpted what looks to be a swan or a snow goose. I’m not sure about the placement of the pine needle.

11. Frost on River Ice

There were thousands of little piles of what looked like hoar frost crystals on the river ice. I didn’t dare walk on it to find out for sure.

 12. Sunset on Ice 

After our coldest night in years the sun gave us plenty of light but little heat and it seemed like the ice was winning the battle. It would be another below zero night. The rumor is that the vortex might have another go at us next week. As I write this we have 64 days, 16 hours, 13 minutes, and 15 seconds until spring.

Nothing burns like the cold. ~ George R.R. Martin

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We haven’t had any measurable snow yet, but our mornings have been frosty.

Ice coats everything on some mornings. 

Ice needles will only grow when the temperature at the soil surface is below freezing and hydrostatic pressure forces cooled, unfrozen water to the surface. Though they often grow in bundles like those in the photo, each individual needle can be as thin as a human hair. If you’d like to learn more about them, just click here

Ice crystals are forming on my windshield each morning, and I wondered if I could get pictures of them.

Like snowflakes, each one is different. Our ponds are freezing and staying frozen during the daytime, so we won’t see much open water here until spring. This pond is called Perkin’s Pond and the mountain is Mt. Monadnock, a well-known local landmark.

Alongside the river, ice forms on anything that comes into contact with its water. 

Even tree sap froze as it dripped from a wound. 

Our sunsets are colorful but deceiving; any heat they hold lies only in our imagination.

Frost grows on the window glass, forming whorl patterns of lovely translucent geometry.
Breathe on the glass, and you give frost more ammunition.
Now it can build castles and cities and whole ice continents with your breath’s vapor.
In a few blinks you can almost see the winter fairies moving in . . .
But first, you hear the crackle of their wings ~Vera Nazarian

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