Winter is the season of rest for many plants and mammals. After a long growing season and intense harvest, we look forward to wrapping ourselves in winter's white blanket and enjoying the beauty of the rolling landscape which surrounds us. We always welcome the winter snows which offer the opportunity to snow shoe or ski in the fields and woods on the farm.
Sometimes, however, winter's beauty can be destructive and devastating, as it was when the ice arrived on Friday December 20th. For three days we were iced in at the farm, unable to drive and only able to walk to the barn in snowshoes with heavy cleats . We stocked up firewood, and filled pots, jugs and bathtub with water in anticipation of a power outage, bracing for the worst.
Fortunately, we did not lose power this time, but many hundreds of thousands in South Central and Eastern Canada were stranded without heat or hydro, forced to find shelter with friends and families or at community centres for days which extended over the Christmas holidays. Thousands are still without power and suffering from the prolonged outages. Many trees were lost from the weight of the ice and strangely and one week later, with dropping temperatures and little sun, the trees and branches are still covered with that same ice and now an additional layer of snow. With winds forecast for tonight and tomorrow, the after effects of this storm may still be felt for some time.
On a brighter note, the icy landscape is a photographers dream. When the sun appeared we were delighted to discover a sparkling, frosty, bejewelled landscape, covered with inches of glistening ice, the branches in the fields resembling an underwater scene of coral and seaweed. It was so cold when these photos were taken the iPhone 4 that took them kept powering off.
Flame willow, once towering above our heads, now bows down gracefully before us, it's vivid orange bark still visible through layers of ice, softened to an indescribable shade.
Tall green curly willow appear to writhe and swirl in a fierce struggle against the weight of their icy encasement.
Hydrangea, dwarfed by almost a metre of snow and ice at it's feet, flower heads laden heavy, arching to the ground as if to show exhaustion from it's rapid, vigorous growing season.
And then there was snow...