I don’t usually associate Jack Frost with spring, but this morning he proved me wrong. I found an unexpected exhibit of his artwork near the Laramie River, and had to run back home for the camera. It has not been a productive year for Jack. It was a mild winter; we had only one Arctic air mass come through, back in early December. The river never did freeze over entirely, and in fact was largely open. Perhaps lack of opportunity prompted him to put together this wonderful spring show on the flooded trails last night.
Though the official first day of spring is still three days off, it is definitely spring on the floodplain. Every morning geese fly and honk overhead. Trails through the cottonwoods and wetlands west of the river already are partially flooded. Pretty soon the area will be impassable, giving the residents several months’ respite from human disturbance.
This morning the flooded low spots were frozen, covered with patterned ice very different from winter hoarfrost. It’s fascinating the way these “crystals” seem to grow out from plants emerging from the water. What’s behind such striking patterns? I considered checking online resources for an explanation, but decided not to bother and just enjoy Jack’s creations instead -- might be his last until fall.
|"Ice star" radiating out from plant -- rays are 0.5-1 inch wide.|
Nice bubble patterns and sawtooth edges ... where? Click to view.
Lots of triangular openings -- made from the rays of ice stars.
|Closeup of a thin piece of ice held against a dark background.|
|Tracks of an earlier visitor, Mr. Raccoon.|