Thursday, January 01, 2009
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!