Friday, 30 November 2012

A Drawing of Chill Air

It has been dark for some time now, but in the afternoon we went out to walk high above a strange, crystalline landscape that retreated slowly, as the slanted rays of winter sun crossed it.  Now, as we sit inside with coffee cups and candles, the frost will be again stretching its fingers out, growing slowly, mineral-like into the night.  

The low angle of the winter sun has a blinding, dazzling effect as it passes sideways through the blue, misted air of late November.  And so, we walked with our eyes turned down, lost in frost patterns.  On a low stone wall, my husband found a tiny mushroom with a cap the size of a fingernail which was still growing in a patch of moss and frost.  

Everywhere there were diamonds and crystals, little boxes and angular rods of ice.  Our talk drifted to a winter visit to Romania full of clanking old cross-country trains which departed at midnight or later, pressing us in among the other passengers, rocking us in the forced familiarity of little berth benches where accordion music drifted in from the corridor all night.  

The Carpathian mountains sprouted hoarfrosts more impressive than those in any other place I have seen before or since.  While we were there it was persistently cold and fogs were always hanging about, which happens to be the perfect recipe for growing water into crystals as long as a hand.  

But truly every frost is stunning and magical and a sort of invitation into scarves and jackets and out of doors. 

At the same time, a lovely frosty day, where the morning curtains are drawn back to reveal that all the neighbouring houses' black slate roof tiles have become white and the garden has grown pale and shimmering -- that would also incline one to painting, I suppose... if there were not Christmas cards to be made.   

So we wandered, seeking out shaded corners and leaves suspended in ice.

Frosts that gathered on the ends of logs created miniature frozen labyrinths and sometimes we came across the icy shadows of old leaves that had rested a while and then flown.   

Lurking around every corner were fleeting treasures of light and water.

These days it seems as though lunch is hardly over before the sky blazes up into delirious reds and fuchsias and molten golds.  

And after that there is a moment of grey quivering light before the thick, rolling blackness of winter, the cold clinking of stars, the reaching and grasping of frosts.


  1. Oh, stunning photos! I love that kind of frost, Jack Frost painting everything with sugar icing. It's so rare here that these make me long for colder climes. These scenes really put me into the Christmas spirit far more than any artificial decorations - thank you!

    Best of luck with your Christmas cards! Now, back to work on mine. I could not believe the lineup at the post office for stamps....already!

  2. Pure delight of capturing ice art. I have never seen this beauty in person.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. Fascinating (and beautiful)... also in conjunction with my memories of your last post: the little lines of frosty ice bring to mind the details of an etching... winter carefully etching each leaf, each plant...

  4. You took me on a journey with this post. I can almost see my breath fog as I write this! So very beautiful, thank you so much for writing.

  5. Thank you everyone for the nice comments of foggy breath and ice etched leaves and things. If only I'd thought about how some of you are in warm places, I'd have gone out walking earlier in the day when the frosts were stronger and more beautiful!

    And, oh, Marja-Leena you've just reminded me of what I will be facing when I go and search out my stamps tomorrow.... I hope you are further ahead with your cards than I am with mine.

  6. Yet again I have the rush of pleasure at your blog that signals a maker for whom words and images are of equal weight. You regularly strike the perfect photograph/text balance, and I recognise and love that. (And strive for it myself at the Artlog!) The 'labyrinth' of the log-end is gorgeous, the image conjuring what it might be like to be flying over a turf-maze in Narnia!

  7. Thank you! I think you do a very good job of that yourself too; I always feel that words and images are complementing each other when you post. And just there you have even managed to enrich one of my photos for me!