Brush Mountain under ice

zig-zag tree in ice 2

This is one of 14 new photos of this morning’s spectacular de-icing — go watch the slideshow. Once it starts, be sure to click the little four-arrows icon on the bottom right to expand to full screen. If you’re on dial-up (or using an iPad) you’re probably better off to browse the set.

The photos are in the order I took them; you can see more and more ice falling as the set progresses. I carried an umbrella, but still had to pause constantly to wipe moisture off the lens, and kept switching between still and video cameras, all the time with my mouth hanging open because it was all so goddamned beautiful.

The storm luckily caused very little damage here; in fact, such pruning as did take place was probably, on balance, good for the forest, downed woody debris being so crucial for biodiversity. If your forest or woodlot experienced similar “damage” in this storm, please, if you possibly can, let the snags stand and the fallen trees and branches lie. The wildlife will thank you for it. If you do harvest a few downed trees, for firewood or whatever, try to do it in as randomized a fashion as possible without building any new roads or compacting the soil any more than absolutely necessary. Don’t believe any logger or forester who tells you that unharvested dead trees are “going to waste.” On the contrary, their presence helps accelerate old-growth conditions.

UPDATE (1/3): It doesn’t look as if a videopoem will be in the works, but I did record new audio for my old poem “In the Ice Forest,” q.v.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

27 Comments


    1. Thanks, M-L! I’m enormously relieved. Just because a strom is enormous doesn’t mean it’s going to be catastrophic, of course.

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      1. Oh good. Yeah, I seem to remember y’all got pretty badly hit by an ice storm just a couple of years ago.

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  1. Fantastic images. And I like your comment reply “enormous doesn’t mean it’s going to be catastrophic” … and the blog note about tree fall.

    Somehow we should rescue the words “litter & debris” as being wholesome, at least for forests.

    And wholesome. I want to elevate that word, too. :-)

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    1. Yeah, I try to say “leaf duff” instead of “leaf litter,” for example (also because it’s got great alliteration!). Ecologists mean something technical by “debris” — it’s even acronymized, as you probably know: CWD, coarse woody debris. But “debris” is still a far from neutral term for the rest of us.

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  2. Dave, these are breathtaking. I especially love the first five close-up shots of the plant/leaf detail. And your reminder that nature can and should take care of itself is an important one.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. I almost didn’t include those first couple shots in the set, because why not make it all forest? So I’m glad you said you liked them.

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    1. Thanks. Yeah, I really managed to time it right, for once! It meant being late for lunch, but it was worth it.

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  3. Dave, you have some really lovely shots in the mix. I particularly enjoyed the details encased in glass.

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  4. Great pictures, Dave. Each one, I am sure, will trigger a poem or two.
    Could I use some of them some time or the other in my blog?

    You’re a brave soul going through that forest—I understand Pennsylvania got buried under snow the last two days of that winter storm (it was a dud in my part of Ontario where media hyped up the storm alert!). Thanks for the pictures.

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    1. Hi Albert – Sure. Click through to Flickr and you’ll be able to get embed code for whatever size you want.

      Eastern Pennsylvania might’ve gotten some snow, but all we got here was a bare skim last night as the cold front moved in.

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  5. Dave: You are not only a great Poet, but also a great Photographer! O you wizard of magic! Thank you for these magnificent photos. The aftermath of the ice storm is like the Transfiguration and the Resurrection all rolled into one. It made me think of what Emily Dickinson said: “Nature is a haunted house; but Art is a house that tries to be haunted.” I am using the “cocoon in ice” as my current window-saver.
    It would have been interesting to have had someone recording you on video tape, following after you with a camera as you trudged thru the “ice cathedral” of the snowy woods, struggling to hold an umbrella aloft, along with your camera equipment. A wonderfully poetic image I imagine of you.

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  6. I see thousands of angels hiding
    in the icy light of your lens.

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    1. Thanks, Bob, for the verse and the very kind words about my photography and poetry. I remember when I was about 12, walking home from school through an ice-coated forest filled with sun and having an apocalyptic vision of the mountain covered with houses and roads. Thankfully, that never happened. It made for a long (and probably very bad) poem, though!

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  7. A good recording, and worthy of one of my favorite poems. I could hear the slow walk and the “thousand swords” leaping from their scabbards. That image is one of the strongest ones I’ve ever read.

    I heard you mention in your recent podcast with Nic S., by the way, that the placement of words on the page isn’t a big priority for you as a poet. While I don’t doubt you, I really like the pleasing combination of enjambment and end-stops in the poem’s five stanzas.

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