Stepping out to the back porch one chilly morning, I noticed the heated bird bath needed some cleanup. I generally clean the dish and refill it with fresh water every other day. I also sweep the decking below the dish to remove the “droppings” the birds leave behind. Birds can be messy creatures, but I do not mind doing a little extra work to be able to observe them from a close proximity. I enjoy creating a place of comfort and hydration for them in the winter months. Doing a little tidying up after them is really no trouble.
I grabbed the five-gallon bucket I keep handy for hauling water from the hydrant to the porch, and realized I had left a bit of water in the bucket from the last haul. I tipped it over to empty it on the grass and out fell a disc of ice, along with a bit of water that had melted in the morning sun.
I picked up the circle of ice and brushed the dry Bermuda grass from it. Fascinated with the fissures, air bubbles, and varied textures of the disc, I marveled at its beauty. I wondered why one edge was thick, while the opposing side was much thinner. I decided the piece was indeed, some of nature’s artwork and it demanded a photo session. So, of course, into the house I ran for my camera!
After propping the ice disc in a crack on the picnic table, I moved around the table, either standing or kneeling, to capture different light and background through the ice. This was not always easy. My subject, apparently female, refused to stand anywhere but the crack she was in. In part, the ice disc was a bit, uh, heavy topside, so I was forced to utilize the more slender, lower part to keep her steady and balanced. When I could not get the exact angle to capture the blue color of sky behind the plate, I moved the picnic table slightly, being careful not to harm my unpredictable participant. Sometimes I used the sun to catch the glimmers and sheen of her exquisite textures and lines. Were these imperfections on this icy gal? Why yes, and she had many, but those flaws and blemishes were the very features that made her so interesting to me! She was utterly stunning, this rough beauty, and I was entranced in this unexpected and extraordinary wonder!
Once satisfied I had shots of several nice poses, I removed the subject from the picnic table and set her on a stepping stone in the shade near the back door. Just in case I needed to retake some photos, I did not want her to melt on the table, possibly causing her to slip and shatter.
The varied textures of the ice plate piqued my curiosity about how ice forms. After looking at a few articles online, I found an excellent explanation at this site: Alchedemics – How Water Freezes. Now I understood what took place the night before in the five-gallon bucket, with just a few inches of water in it. As I looked over my photographs of the disc of ice, I understood the formation of various lines and fissures and air bubbles. I could determine what area began freezing first, and what area was the last to freeze. It was a miracle in a bucket! Not only did I see the beauty that nature performed in the wee hours of the morning while I slept, but I understood just how it happened!
While researching ice formation, I forgot about the ice disc until an hour later, when I went back outside to finish the task I had started – cleaning and refilling the bird bath. I looked to see if my ice disc had melted a little, giving me another opportunity to capture the change with my camera. But alas, my fascinating subject had disappeared! No longer the stunning, statuesque feature I had photographed, she had returned to her former liquid state. A damp spot on the stepping stone was all that remained.
I thought about the miracle of “the moment” that morning. Had I not stopped the task I had started, or if I had just tossed the plate of ice without giving it a second thought, I would have missed its spectacular artistry of nature. I often stop to marvel at the artistic splendor of the woodlands, or the sky, or the landscape as I walk with my camera. But this simple discovery while doing chores, reminded me that artistic observation can be worthwhile anywhere we happen to be. When we choose to slow down a bit, and take in the most simple elements of nature, of life, we can see everything with the eye of an artist – if we just look a little deeper, below the surface and beyond the imperfections…
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…