Icicles

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.

icicles on roof

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.

icicles, drips of water
Water drops and icicles.

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.

icicles molded by cycles of warm and cold

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.

broken icicles next to 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).

dog on bed with icicle
Yummy, cold treat.
dog with icicle
An icicle toy.
Conall guards the icicle (between his feet) from Finn.
dog, snow, icicle
The next morning, still guarding his icicle.

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.

16 thoughts on “Icicles”

  1. I love your icicle photos in the foreground with scenery in the background. That snow on the roof looks deep and heavy. Conall guarding his icicle is cute. You are living in a gorgeous winter wonderland.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Turtle mail with photo & video received and appreciated! So happy the babies are on their way to sea and – I hope – a long and happy life. Thank you for helping make that happen, both of you!

      This is what I love about the WordPress community. I’m writing about snow and icicles and winter, and across the globe you’re helping a sea turtle nursery, making sure the baby turtles start their journey to the sea and (we hope) a long life in safety. Wonderful!

      Like

  2. It’s not every day you get treated to a Meatloaf quote! Just the other day, my son showed me videos of snow and ice falling off the roofs of buildings and houses. Wow. You’re right. That can be really dangerous! I’m sort of surprised we don’t read about people getting killed on a regular occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We get about 300 inches of snow per year, and our rule of thumb is that we need to have the roof shoveled every 100 inches. We outsource this job but lots of families send their kids up to the roof to shovel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy, your inches-of-snow-per-year statistic got me interested in what was typical here. I confess I’m more focused on what sits on the ground for any length of time vs overall season inches, so I didn’t know. Google says we get 99 inches a year here, on average; 138 inches in McCall, the nearest major town, which is 1000 ft higher in elevation. Nothing like what you get! I’m not surprised you shovel your roof!

      Like

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