Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Magical Frost

The beauty of winter in the Dakotas continues to amaze and inspire me. We woke Monday morning to a dazzling hoarfrost. Coated in sparkling ice crystals, our little town sparkled like a magical winter wonderland.
According to Wikipedia,"hoarfrost (also called radiation frost or hoarfrost) refers to the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when heat losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding air."
Despite the clear meteorological explanation for the phenomenon, I can't help but imagine things differently. As I drove Matthew to school, we were dazzled by the beauty. We imagined a lovely wintertime fairy, fluttering from tree to tree, shrub to shrub, gently flicking her magic wand, creating the marvel we saw before us. No branch or bush was left untouched, and each creation was more beautiful than the last.

A little later, Wesley spent an hour or so exploring the outdoors, camera in hand, capturing the beauty of the morning. A bunny watched him with interest as he snapped her picture. He took these photos (and dozens more) just outside town.

Winter in the Dakotas can also be harsh and treacherous. Dangerously low wind chills and hazardous road conditions unfortunately result in many accidents and injuries during our long winter season. Countless broken bones result from slippery streets and sidewalks, and many homes face days without phone or electricity during blizzards and ice storms.

Ranchers work tirelessly to protect their herds from the elements. It is a constant task to keep water tanks from freezing, feed bunks full, and fences in place as winter snow drifts accumulate. In some places, the tall drifts are so hard packed that the cattle can walk right over the fence.

For most ranchers, it's also calving season! Gayla arrived at work a little late on Thursday morning... commenting that she had a "delivery" in the night. In the middle of the night, her husband Bob left the house to check their herd. Gayla knew there was a problem when she heard his pick-up return, but he left it running in the driveway. She quickly dressed and went out to help him. A little later, she helped him deliver a precious set of twin calves, and is happy to report that the babies are doing well.

Fortunately, Mother Nature graciously grants us frequent gifts to make up for the winter chill. Last week, I was treated to a glorious sunrise. This week, a dazzling hoarfrost. I can't wait to discover unexpected beauty in the weeks ahead. And, once we get through March, spring will be right around the corner!