Ice fog

ice-fogged red maple

An icy mist or fog drifted in just after supper last night, and by morning (if I may be so gauche as to quote myself) every twig was spiky with eldritch feathers.

ice-fogged striped maple and pignut hickory

Unlike with a regular ice storm, trees that have been bathed in icy fog for a number of hours don’t seem to be unduly stressed: branches don’t break or even bend much under the weight of what is essentially hoarfrost.

ice-fogged nest

An old bird’s nest was gravid with its one big egg of snow.

dead tree in the ice fog

A dead oak was one of the few trees completely bereft of feathers,

ice-fogged black cherry

which otherwise had sprouted nearly everywhere.

ice-fogged maple leaves

The few leaves still hanging on the trees were especially rich sites for ice-crystal nucleation.

ice-fogged leaf

On top of the ridge where the fog had been thickest, a leaf curled against a branch was transformed into a caterpillar of frost,

ice-fogged sapling

and certain smooth-barked trees of just the right diameter and orientation had grown thornier than any honey locust.

ice-fogged Norway spruce

Barberry thorns, meanwhile, had acquired thorns of their own, and spruce needles had sprouted a whole new set of needles. I thought of that koan-like saying attributed to Jesus in Matthew 25:29 and Luke 19:26: “Unto every one that hath shall be given; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

An hour after I returned from my walk, the temperature climbed above freezing, a wind sprang up, and the hoarfrost disappeared in minutes.

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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).


    1. Thanks! I’m just wondering: if freezing drizzle is “frizzle,” would freezing fog be “frog”?


    1. Ain’t it, though? I’m glad I found the time to take a quick walk before lunch. If I’d waited, I would’ve missed it.


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