Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Left breathless...

Beauty is a fragile gift.
- Ovid

Beauty that left us breathless.
When time and schedules permit, there's nowhere either one of us would rather be, than outside. Whether it's sea kayaking or spending time on the trails, we return home every time... astonished at both the inexpressible power and the unimaginable delicacy of the natural world. Early this morning, just metres from the carved sandstone seashore of this enigmatic little Gabriola Island, we came upon a most magical ice "sculpture". Its beauty and its fragility left us breathless.

Looking like a horse's mane, this exquisite formation is known as silk frost, hair ice, or needle ice. Not technically frost, these delicate and silvery strands of ice grow out of the pores of barkless wood on the forest floor. But only under very special conditions.

When the temperature is low and the humidity is high, supercooled water is pushed out through the pores in the wood, and just like our human hair, the strands grow outwards. We were fortunate to see this one because they don't last long. I placed my finger near the ends of the strands and even without actually touching them, they began to melt from the radiated warmth of my body.

The surreal beauty of frozen water.
Nature clearly delights in offering such splendid surprises. But this extraordinary beauty can be such a fragile and transient gift. How worthwhile, for all of us, not only to be outside but to be "present" when we are outside. It would have been so easy to miss.




  1. Thanks PO, it truly was. Duncan.

  2. That is so special. thanks for sharing the moment!


  3. It's good we can all share such moments and experiences through this medium. Thank you, Mark. Duncan.

  4. Extraordinary. Truly amazing and beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Glad you enjoyed it, J. Don't imagine there's much ice where you are. It's snowing like crazy here right now! :) Duncan.

  6. Incredible beauty, Duncan. Thanks for sharing. Those who live in an "inside" life, truly do not know what they miss. - Sheila

  7. Thanks for that, Sheila. We humans didn't evolve to be an "inside" and sedentary species. I'm sure that the preference for that state of being (and the steady diet of the "thin flat screen") is what leads to the frustration and unhappiness of so many in our society. Heavens, you don't need a kayak! A daily walk through the trees or a park or around the block would be a transforming and renewing experience. It's strange how empty forest trails, parks, and neighbourhood sidewalks usually are. Sigh... D.

  8. That is unreal. Never seen anything like that before! Beautiful!

  9. Truly one of the rewards, that you know so well, that come to those who engage in self-propelled activity. We're going slow enough to notice. :) Thanks Lee. D.