This past winter was a strange and disappointing one for me. Temperatures were much too cold to work in the orchard, and even if I could have managed to tough out the freezing conditions, a state-wide burn ban left me without any means to burn the wood I’d manage to gather in an effort to clean up the orchard. Moisture was scant since the previous summer, and wildfires were a real threat all winter. So, I spent most of my time indoors working on projects that I had put on hold over the summer and autumn months. But that was not the kind of work I preferred to do. I found myself suffering from cabin fever a good bit.
One morning late in February, I was elated to hear about the possibility of freezing rain by afternoon, as any kind of freezing moisture made for interesting photography. I waited as the morning skies turned dark and gloomy, and was hoping for some real action. But by noon, the weather forecast had changed and it seemed we might be getting more of a thin coat of freezing mist if the temperatures held just below freezing. Hopeful that the meteorologist on our local TV channel would be wrong, I watched the skies closely over the next few hours.
Just around three o’clock, I heard small pellets of ice hitting the windows on the north side of the house. It wasn’t long before the thin coating of sleet marked pathways and settled into the crevices of tree bark and branches. Next, a heavy mist moved in, covering the sleet and adding a shiny gloss to the landscape over the next hour. But just as quickly as the mist moved in, it lifted and the skies lightened. Soon, droplets of thawing water trickled from the trees. It sounded like a gentle rain in the woodlands. I realized I would not have long to photograph any of the frozen matter if I did not get moving.
As I ventured along, I tried to walk in open areas to keep away from the dripping melt. I had draped plastic over my camera and zoom lens just in case the wind got up and I might get pelted with droplets of water. I worked fast and furious, and I was glad I did because, in thirty minutes time, all signs of sleet and ice had completely vanished. I slogged through puddles and mucky mud as I headed back to the house. I have photographed much grander ice displays over the years, but this small show of icing was not at all disappointing.