Saturday, March 17, 2018

Curls and Lace

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs as Spring approaches and the frozen bay begins to turn to water again. Sometimes, on cold, clear, still nights, a thin layer of new ice forms on the surface. 

Baloo and I had our attention caught by some very odd cracking and tinkling sounds coming from the shore as we were walking and went to investigate (we belong to the ranks of the terminally curious).


I will now do my best to describe the delightful little spectacle we got to witness. When the sun begins to warm the newly frozen surface and the currents start to move again beneath it, that thin sheet of ice slowly breaks up into little panes of ice that look a lot like broken window glass.  

Look carefully at the sequence of photos I took of this partially submerged bush. Movement started toward shore and branches that were frozen into the thin layer of ice began to move with the currents, causing shards to heave up at the base of the bush. You can see that a big piece has pushed up against the center left section in the second picture. 

Then, the branches would sort of spring free, sometimes flinging, sometimes pushing these panes of ice across the still frozen surface, where they slowly slid along like curling stones being thrust along the ice. (Thank you to a friend of mine for coming up with the perfect curling analogy there, when I described what I had seen.) In this third picture, you can see that the big pane from the previous picture has been tipped over and is slipping toward the beach.

Finally, these panes of ice pile up on the shore looking like big stacks of broken window glass, glimmering in the early morning sunlight, before melting away with the warming of the sand. 

Another thing that's always fun to see on a cold, frosty morning is the ice lace that forms on puddles during the night. I used to love sticking a toe through the intricate webs when I was a child, just to hear the 'tink' sound it made.

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