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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