Snow and icicles are winter’s bonded pair.
Icicles are beautiful. Ephemeral. Tough yet brittle. Marvels of nature’s mixture of warm and cold, temporary sculptures tickling our senses while reminding us that nothing lasts forever.
Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old, their beards of icicles and snow.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It’s not only the forest trees that display these winter beards. My house does, as well.
Its asphalt shingle roof is designed to hold the snow, up to the weight of five feet in depth. With good insulation preventing heat from escaping through the attic, the snow doesn’t melt unless the sun or outside temperatures cause it to. In fact, that layer of snow on the roof helps insulate my house from extremely cold air.
To me, the thick blanket of snow looks and feels cozy.
For several days recently, the sun has made an appearance and temperatures have climbed above freezing in the afternoon hours, causing the snow at the edges of my roof to slowly melt. A constant, slow drip, drip, drip that sometimes finds its cold way down the back of my neck when I step outside.
Those slow drips of water allow for the formation of long, crystal clear icicles as the temperature drops below freezing again after dark.
I’m mesmerized by the beauty of the icicles. By how they start life as the soft drops of melt water, slowly bonding together, freezing, accumulating and adding one to another, growing ever longer, straight and pellucid, then over cycles of melting and refreezing while often buffeted by wind, they transmogrify into something more opaque, bent, and banded with small bulges. They are no less delightful to behold after their ordeal.
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.Rachel Carson
Eventually the icicles become so thick and heavy that when the sun warms them or temperatures remain above freezing for a few hours, gravity tugs until they fall with a loud, tinkling crash to the bare ground next to the house.
Or, in an abundance of caution, in certain spots I’ll knock the bigger icicles off the roof so they won’t suddenly fall onto me or my dogs.
Those broken pieces of icicle become Conall’s toys. When he’s bored, he’ll pick one up in his mouth and bring it inside, curl up on one of the dog beds, and start loudly gnawing to get my attention. He doesn’t really want to eat it, so rather than have it dissolve into a pool of water on the bed, I either toss it into the boys’ water bowl, or back out onto the snow-covered deck where Conall can treat it like a toy and guard it from Finn (who, as with Conall’s dead voles, couldn’t care less).
Rather than ending with a music video, I’ll leave you with these apropos song lyrics…
You’ve been cold to me so long, I’m crying icicles instead of tears.Meat Loaf
Feature photo: icicles near my front door on February 24, 2021.