Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Winter landscape

He comes,--he comes,--the Frost Spirit comes! You may trace his footsteps now
On the naked woods and the blasted fields and the brown hill's withered brow.
He has smitten the leaves of the gray old trees where their pleasant green came forth,
And the winds, which follow wherever he goes, have shaken them down to earth.

He comes,--he comes,--the Frost Spirit comes!--from the frozen Labrador,--
From the icy bridge of the Northern seas, which the white bear wanders o'er,--
Where the fisherman's sail is stiff with ice, and the luckless forms below
In the sunless cold of the lingering night into marble statues grow!

He comes,--he comes,--the Frost Spirit comes!--on the rushing Northern blast,
And the dark Norwegian pines have bowed as his fearful breath went past.
With an unscorched wing he has hurried on, where the fires of Hecla glow
On the darkly beautiful sky above and the ancient ice below.

He comes,--he comes,--the Frost Spirit comes!--and the quiet lake shall feel
The torpid touch of his glazing breath, and ring to the skater's heel;
And the streams which danced on the broken rocks, or sang to the leaning grass,
Shall bow again to their winter chain, and in mournful silence pass.

He comes,--he comes,--the Frost Spirit comes!--let us meet him as we may,
And turn with the light of the parlor-fire his evil power away;
And gather closer the circle round, when that fire-light dances high,
And laugh at the shriek of the baffled Fiend as his sounding wing goes by!

This lovely poem is The Frost Spirit by John Greenleaf Whittier a 19th century American poet. It must have been inspired by similar magical scenes to the ones I saw and photographed this morning.

I have to say that I don't think of Jack Frost or the Frost Spirit as a fiend but more of a bringer of beauty and cleansing. To me when I was a child the words 'Jack Frost has been' from my mother as she drew my curtains was a signal to run to the window to see the lovely patterns he had drawn on the glass. No central heating in those days and the winters were colder so there was often frost on the inside of the windows.

I don't suppose I really noticed the beauty of seedheads heavy with frost but I do remember long icy slides in the school playground and on the pavements too which was probably not all that popular with the older people! No Health and Safety spoiled our fun in those days. I don't remember anyone really hurting themselves, just a few scraped knees and bruises. We wrapped up warm and played out in all weathers, little girls wore liberty bodices - not very elegant but very effective in the keeping you warm stakes.

This isn't a variegated holly in spite of appearances, it's an ordinary green one with a thick rim of frost round the edges, it looked absolutely stunning.

Ivy flowers in the process of becoming black berries, still green at the moment but will provide food for hungry birds as they ripen. It's worth clicking and enlarging it to see the ice crystals on each tiny berry and outlining every leaf.

The artistry of the spiders web is even more evident sparkling with ice crystals. This particular holly bush had several decorating it as though Nature had celebrated Winter Solstice with her own delicate ornaments.

Happy New Year everyone!


Anonymous said...

Lovely photos Rowan. Its amazing what nice images you can get from something that has little colour.

Leanne said...

Welcome back rowan, ive missed your lovely posts. Your Holly photo is stunning, one of my fabvourite trees. Like the new header too, very seasonal!

New year blessings to you

leanne x

Pixiedust said...

Happy New Year Rowan. Lovely pics, I love the cob web covered in frost. xxx

Bovey Belle said...

What fabulous photos. You had more of a hoar frost than we did, but when we drove to X-Hands, they had it there, being higher up (we're on the valley-side). I believe it is set to get worse too . . .

Happy New Year from Jennie xxx

nita x said...

rowan lovely gorgeous magical photos and the poem is lovely. :o)

Happy New year to you :o)

Sheila said...

Lovely frosty photos Rowan.
Mr B looks like he's having a great time.
I had forgotten liberty bodices, all tapes and bone buttons!
There nothing very liberating about them was there?
Happy New Year to your and your family.

hen said...

What beautiful photos and a lovely poem, just perfect!


Hope said...

The pictures are so beautiful!! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. I love the frost!

Pieceful Afternoon said...

Just lovely - thanks so much for sharing.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Best wishes for the new year Rowan! Your pictures are spectacular.

Rosie said...

Fabulous photos, Rowan - I too love the bright and cleansing frost - I also remember my cold bedroom with frost inside and outside the window and the patterns it made on the glass.

Have a Happy and Peaceful New Year:)

Sal said...

What fabulous photos and a great choice of poetry .Happy new year ;-)

solsticedreamer said...

hello and happy new year!
the photos are wonderful and the poem amazing.
i have to say i love cold frosty days they seem so magical :)

Lady Prism said...

Your pretty winter photos seem to transport me into your world of glimmering silver. I can almost feel the crunch of snow under my feet. The holly photo as well as the first one is my favorite.


Some day,I hope to see real snow...

WoodSong said...

I'm SO happy to have refound you, after 2 computer crashes I lost most eveything I had on the net..
love the poem and your images- and what great memories of those cold windows and etchings the frost left to wonder at..
wishing you a peaceful new year my friend and it's good to read your words again :)

Julie said...

Welcome back to the land of posting, my dear, with such a beautiful post, too. When it was really cold a couple of weeks ago I do have to admit that we had beautiful feathery (ferny)etchings on our windows.

I understand Leanne has had a lot of frost too. I think I would rather see frost than all the snow we've gotten so far this season.

C-ingspots said...

Beautiful photographs!! And such a lovely poem to accompany them. I've never read that poem before, but it's really quite lovely. Thank you. Happy New Year to you!!

hippymummy said...

hello rowan, i've come your way via Leannes blog. I think i'm going to enjoy visiting here, such lovely pics anf words to match. Wishing you all the best for 2009,
Sarah xXx

Janet said...

These photos are stunning! I can almost feel the bite in the air. The spider webs look especially lace.

Hoping all the best for you in 2009!!

PAT said...

Beautiful photos! I love the poem!

Happy New Year, Rowan!