Have I said it’s been cold lately?
It’s been cold lately.
The other day, late in the afternoon, I went for a long walk with the animals to savor the last of fall. But it didn’t really feel like fall, because I had to wear one of those hats with long ears (dumbshit hats–because you’re a dumbshit if you don’t have one) and a scarf and a heavy down coat and gloves and my Uggs. Sucked. Except the Uggs. I don’t care that they’re universally hated by men. I fucking love them.
The part that really breaks my heart is how sad and suddenly the oats field turned yellow, or gold. It looks so warm but it was freezing. The wind! Howling. I felt like it was whistling in the space between my ears and the felt interior of my hat.
I cut into the woods on this great trail that follows an old fence row up to the power lines that cut across the property. Can you see Pax? She’s so pretty. It’s hilarious to follow her through all that leaf duff because she’s so clumsy. She’s the least coordinated border collie I’ve ever known. She stumbles on logs and big old rocks. Shortly after I took this picture she sank up to her chest in a pile of leaves that had gathered in a dry creek bed.
I began passing a lot of other plants that looked like they had bag worm sacks at their feet, which is exactly what I assumed they were.
This next bit makes me feel extremely stupid, because it wasn’t until the near the end of my walk when I’d looped through the woods back around to the house that I finally stopped to observe the white fluff stuff. I knelt down next to a single cluster and literally said out loud, “That’s so weird, it really does look like ice, but it can’t be!” And then I reached out to touch it, expecting it to stick to my gloves like cobwebs. It shattered under the weight of my gloved fingertip.
I finally broke off a little piece for closer observation. It really was ice. Really! I’d never seen anything like it. In all my time in Alaska, in all my time at high elevations, never, ever, once, have I seen something like this.
After, I saw them everywhere, all through the woods, like little dropped napkins.
The next day, the local newspaper ran an article on some lady in Kansas or something who’d seen this “extremely rare natural event called frost flowers.” Nobody seems to be able to say for sure, but scientists venture that when a suddenly cold snap occurs, the water bursts up from the roots, or something. I guess they’re more common early in the morning and tend to fade as the sun comes out, but it just didn’t warm up enough to do that in this case. They stayed all day.
And, like so many “rare events,” the comment stream on the article went crazy with stories from hundreds of people in the area who had also seem the frost flowers. We are a collective. Like I said in my 100th post, story is important. It shows us that we’re not alone.