Whether sifting through sand, or scrambling over a rocky shore, it's about finding treasures in every day. 

Frost Crystals and an Afternoon Owl

Another sunny, late fall day! With a treat like that we decided to go for a walk on Etolin Island, and we walked right into winter. In the shady places the cold, still air has allowed hoarfrost to grow. Crystals and spicules have turned small valleys into fairyland. Remember the frost fairies in Fantasia? They have been at work here. When I look closely there is beauty so great and so delicate that it feels wrong to walk through the gem encrusted grass and destroy the crystals. So I took a few pictures to share with you.

Hoarfrost crystal

Hoarfrost crystal

Actually I took about eighty pictures, but frost is fickle about photos, so many of them ended up on the cutting room floor.

Beautiful frost crystal

Gem encrusted blades of grass

Gem encrusted blades of grass

One blade of grass turned into a strand of diamonds.

Walking through this wonderland, swishing along, there is soft music tinkling gently as our boots brush delicate bits of ice. Turning off of the flat, we progress slowly up the hillside through a series of Southeast Alaska muskegs, stopping to admire the work of the frost fairies in the frozen puddles and ponds.

Frost spicules and grass in a small pond

Frost spicules and grass in a small pond

The moss of the muskegs is frozen hard, and it makes for much easier walking than the usual soft, spongy surface of the bog.

Late fall frozen in place in the muskeg. Tidewater is in the background.

Late fall frozen in place in the muskeg. Tidewater is in the background.

Frost spicules adorning a goldthread leaf.

A rosette of frost spicules

A rosette of frost spicules

On the way back down the hill I am once again taking pictures of frost, face down in a frozen pond. My sweetheart whispers, “There’s an owl.” An owl? Flying around in the daytime? I may have lived here in Southeast Alaska a long time, but I have never, ever seen that! There it is, gliding on wide, silent wings, and coming right toward us! We are standing in a field of sparkling diamonds with an owl flying over to see what we were. Pure magic! The owl circles and disappears into the trees. It is easy to walk slowly now, and take in the details.

The Trusty Steed (skiff) is anchored out on the sunny, unfrozen side of the bay, and as we walk along the grassy high tide line that sharp-eyed man once again stops me and points out the owl in the grass ahead of us. It lifts noiselessly, and flies to a perch on a deadfall, then further along the beach, and around the point out of sight.

Transient
Curious short eared owl (Asio flammeus)

Curious short eared owl (Asio flammeus)

Wishing you a crystalline day,

Alaska Beachcomber

More frost crystals

I'll try to stop now...