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

Crazed Ice

If you’ve been on this beachcombing journey with me for awhile then you know that I am easily distractible, and go bonkers over cool critters and neat patterns. The patterns of frost and ice make winter worthwhile, because snowmobiling and downhill skiing just aren’t my thing. Today’s musings are on ice patterns, ending up at a crazed lake at nightfall.

In late falltime the ice, freed from summer’s banishment, dances it’s way across puddles and ponds. These lily pads in a muskeg high up on a hillside were taken by surprise, lending their gentle curves to the exuberant expressions of skim ice.

But that was months ago. Winter hasn’t unfolded in layers of glorious beauty this year, which might have left me feeling a bit abandoned in the darkness of the season. So-o, SLUSH to the rescue! Yes, that cold, wet, goop that invades your boots, slops onto your pants, and slams you full-force when an inconsiderate driver goes by. That heavy, un-shovelable, bane of late winter brought me out of beauty starvation one evening. I was walking down the dock and there it was! Ribbons of slushy fun adorning the water’s surface and tickling my eyes.

Slush by the dock

 Water currents painted the surface slush into artworks. Falling snow added linear accents to the watery softness. I can only bring you a tiny part of the gallery.

“Salted Currents”_____ Medium: Water_____ Sold

Slush Storm on Jupiter _____Medium: Water _____$32,000.

Reclining Nude in Slush_____ Medium: Water_____ $48,000.

Recently some thin sheets of ice made me giggle. Really, who gets silly over bits of ice? Please, somebody tell me that you do.

So I set the ice on my jacket and took a few close-ups.

Isn’t this too much fun? How can frozen water, technically a mineral, be so organic?

Then there was the day that the love of my life said that we needed to go up to a lake after work. It’s still getting dark fairly early here, so we took off in the evening, hiking up through the woods in diminishing light. We climbed hard through the trees to see the crazed lake, arriving well after sunset but before full darkness. This was not the standard crazed pattern of a dry lake bed. Not the predictable pattern of crazed ceramic glaze.

Beachcombed, crazed ceramic shard with barnacles.

No, this was the shattered-mind pattern of a lake that just couldn’t handle one more freeze-thaw cycle.

An eerie mist settled onto the lake, the light left the sky, and we snapped our flashlights on to hike back down the steep trail through the forest. It was SO worth it. 

Wishing you joy in crazed visions,

Alaska Beachcomber

More wintery posts:

Frost Gardens

A Frosty Postcard

Playing With Ice

Frost Crystals and an Afternoon Owl

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