Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter of 2014

           When the sun goes down behind the mountain here at Big Creek the temperature starts to dip in unanimity with the diminishing sun. It has been bitterly cold here this January, unlike recent years. While it was quite cold in the winter months of 2012 and 2013 it did not reach the frigid temps we have experienced this new month of 2014. The parsley and many of the other usually hardy plants that as a rule survive the cold till April or May, have nothing left but skeletal remains, twisted, brown and dried. Many of the biennial plants grow the first year and produce roots and green leaves. The second year they bloom and produce flowers and seeds. Often these leaves like parsley can be picked through their first winter at any point in time. Not this year. They are all long desiccated.

            There are areas along the creek that have been frozen for more than a week, mostly in the shadier areas. These patches of ice are usually strangling a stalk or perennial stem of some long dormant plant, sometimes attached to the bank and reaching out into the creek. The ice, defying gravity forms a small transparent circular shelf surrounding the twig or branch and spreads out and away from it like a small circular crystalline shelf suspended above the reach of the water in the creek. Sometimes they are the size of a quarter and frequently as large as a silver dollar. Occasionally when it is very cold the ice shelves can be as large as the hood of car, surrounding rocks or driftwood anchored in the creek. They are very beautiful. In areas around our small waterfall there are strange crenulated ice formations that defy description. The fanciful forms create themselves as the falling water hits rocks and splashes on the all ready frozen ice crystals.  More ice stalactites and stalagmites twist and turn and form on top of what is already there,  defying gravity and common sense. They make fanciful formations suitable for a Fellini movie or some exotic night mare. defying

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