Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Little Lesson on Ice Needles

If you live where the winter is cold enough for the ground to freeze, have you ever wondered about those cool little ice things that look like stalagmites and actually lift small things from the ground, like leaves and sticks and crumbs of soil?  Today while walking on the mountain I saw them everywhere, and they were so tall and some were even curving, and some were stuck together in comb-like arrangements, that I had to bring a few home to study more closely.  I called my son Mike who lives in the truly frozen north and told him I thought these might be frost heaves, and had he ever seen them, and weren't they interesting.  He had seen lots of them, only he was more familiar with the big brother version, the actual frost heave, which, he told me, was capable of lifting a car and certainly ruined many roads every winter, and no, he wasn't a fan.

So I squatted down on the deck of my studio in my crusty boots and drew my baby frost heaves with frozen fingers and chatted with M about these things.  Then I went on line and discovered that what I had seen and carefully carried home balanced on the tips of my mittens were actually called ice needles or needle ice (as well as several other different names, see above).  They form by the same principle as frost heaves, but are the mini-version.  You can read my writing around the drawings to learn more about this fascinating subject. 

Tomorrow:  some great color!

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