Several years ago I read about something called “frost flowers” and I’ve wanted to see one in person ever since. But the timing (a brief window in late fall) and conditions have to be just right (first hard freezes have arrived, but ground is still warm) for these ribbons of ice crystals to form, so they’re a pretty rare find.
According to the Department of Conservation’s website, this is how they form:
“While the plants’ stems are ruptured by the first hard freeze, the root system is still sending up plant sap from the warmer ground. The sap pushes through the broken stem and freezes on contact with the cold air. As more saps moves up, it forces the freezing stream of white ice crystals into ornate, folded ribbons that look like petals, puffs of cotton candy, or snarls of white thread.”
They go on to say:
“Even experienced nature explorers have never seen frost flowers. This is because you have to be in the right place at the right time. Get to know Missouri’s frost-flower plants and find places where they grow naturally. Then keep your eye on the calendar and the weather. When it starts to frost in the fall, plan to get out early and visit the places where you’ve seen frost-flower plants growing. Don’t forget your camera. If you’re lucky, you may snap a few pictures before the ice ribbons melt in the morning sunlight.“
So imagine my surprise when I spotted this frosty piece of magic in the park this afternoon.
At first I thought someone had discarded some plastic wrap. But then I looked more closely and realized there was another piece of plastic nearby. And another. And another. Then it dawned on me…these were FROST FLOWERS!!! Not in the woods. Not early in the morning. In the park. In the afternoon.
I. Geeked. Out.
It was hard to believe I’d found one, let alone more than a dozen. The way I described finding these to my Mom was it felt like I’d not only found a four-leaf clover, but a field of them.
Such a variety of shapes and sizes!
Feathers, wings, roses, curls and twirls.
Each one more magical than the next.
Even Finn was curious about them – and extra gentle.
Lucky me, lucky day.
Day 7 of the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge: Something you’re looking forward to.
Answer: Short term, creating Christmas cookies. A little longer term, training for and running a half marathon next year that has been at the top of my running wish list since I started running.