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

Waterforms

It is just not a very nice time of year to be a little tree growing out of a cliff.

Ice laden cedar tree.

Not a very nice time at all.

It makes me very happy that people can walk around. I sometimes think about being a tiny seed sailing on the wind, landing in a mountain stream, washing down the hillside, landing in a little crevice in the side of a cliff, and having to make the best of it right there.

Small alder tree wearing an ice coat.

Some trees seem to thrive in incredibly harsh circumstances. I’m not as tough as a tree. I can walk over and stand next to the heater. Actually there is a worn out spot on the floor in front of the heater.  There might be a hot chocolate stain in front of that wear spot, too.

Snow-clad mountaintop trees.

I am fascinated by water in its many forms. Darn good thing, that, since I live in a temperate rainforest. The water doesn’t lock up as ice all winter; it is ever-changing.

It can be maddening when the roads are wet ice, or when slushy piles freeze into solid lumps that are impossible to shovel away. Last week there were temperatures in the teens (-9 C) and this week it will get up to 40 degrees (4 C). Next week who knows? Winter will continue for three more months and the hillsides will alternate between white and green. Yards may have snow angels and snowmen one week and slush covered moss the next.

Fern-like hoarfrost.

Hoarfrost crystal

At 1:30 a.m. the other night I suddenly had to go outside in 18 degree weather and take frost pictures. In my slippers. The hoarfrost had grown again, and some of the crystals were and inch and a half tall (4cm). It was a garden of sparkly ferns calling me away from the heater. Clouds had just covered up the moon so my flashlight illuminated a tiny part of a glittery world. I crouched by a snowbank that was covered with points of frost. How did the water know that in this temperature and humidity it was to construct this latticework? By seven in the morning there was three inches of snow covering the frost. Yesterday it warmed up enough to start raining.

Closeup of frost crystal.

The rain reminds me that the weather often makes temporary art – momentary beauty to appreciate even in a harsh season. So I stop and look at the insides of icicles.

Oh, that is so worth it.

Happy New Year, All, and may you find remarkable details in each day of 2013!

Alaska Beachcomber

Unwarm

A walk with snowy trees.

There is a whole bunch of heat missing. I think that it went south for the winter, leaving the water here to change form in hundreds of ways. It is more than the popped rain falling from the sky to coat trees and soften the earth.

Icicles on a cliff.

Our Southeast Alaska winter, freezing and thawing and freezing again, creates icicles and other sculptures to reflect on and relate to.

All of the stately, tapered icicles, understanding their path toward gravity and taking the journey seriously, create a lovely sight.

Busy icicles.

Then there are the icicles that I completely identify with. The three curious ones are me and two friends, exploring life in a random fashion, looking here and getting distracted there. I love these icicles.

“Okay, we have most of the day,” my friend says, “what would you like to do?”

“Paint a silk scarf, pick some medicinal plants from the woods, catch a trout from Thom’s Creek, oh look! The tide is out! Let’s go beachcombing first and do all that other stuff after lunch.” Hahaha, after lunch I will want to bead a necklace, split firewood, and collect wild edible mushrooms. My friends have lots of interests, too, and we might end up sighting in rifles or taking their dog to swim in a lake or working on the cabin they are building. 

Some icicles just get distracted...or have a lot of interests...or are curious about what is out there besides gravity.

It is the eve of winter solstice, and the sun shown. Actually it peeked between mountain peaks on its low arc from southeast to southwest. Hubby and I started driving to town, but on the third…okay, fourth, stop for me to jump out of the truck and take pictures he suggested that we go the two miles back and so that he could get the other vehicle and make it to town before the sun set. We did, and I had a few hours to gather images to share with you.

Downtown Wrangell is just around that dark point on the right.

Have you ever felt like this?

Blueberry branch encased in ice.

This is a six year old spruce tree. It is knocking on the door and asking to come in and get a cup of hot chocolate. 

Near sunset I went out by the airport to look across the Stikine River flats at the mountains on the mainland. Yep, you can see the view below from the airport in Wrangell. Um, well, when the weather is clear.

Water spattering down from a cliff formed the bubbly-looking ice sculpture below.

Ice formation

Wishing you a warm winter solstice!

Alaska Beachcomber