Cold weather and clear nights can bring heavy deposits of hoarfrost, a phenomenon I’ve seen more often here in the Pacific Northwest than I when I lived on the east coast. The effect is sporadic, unpredictable – at least to me. But always beautiful.

If the sun shines on it all too – what a gift!

We drove east into the mountains that day, just for the pleasure of it, not knowing what we would see.  The little town of Index did not disappoint. There it was by the side of the road – a postage stamp-sized plot of neglected land, transformed by frost into a pale winter stage set, ready for ballerinas and fairies.

But no need for ballerinas really – there was entertainment enough in finding an exquisite picture in every inch of the landscape. Just stepping out of the car was to enter a magical world where frozen fingers and toes were quickly forgotten.

Even the ice patterns on the guard rail were a study in carefully composed movement.


Two years ago on almost the same date I came across plastic tarps in big, loose bundles at a farm that were covered with ice crystals after a cold night. They had been transformed into sculpture.


It was hard to take my eyes off the ground.  I felt I should watch my step, lest I ruin a particularly beautiful composition, but it was impossible to avoid crunching  the perfect crystals into oblivion.

Beauty everywhere.

Looking up, this plain spot on the roadside shimmered with more possibilities – gracefully nodding grasses, pale with frost, moss-splotched aspens receding into emerald woods, lavender mountains in the distance – I was lost.

No, it doesn’t always rain in Seattle.


Too bad my favorite espresso and snack stop in Index was closed that day. We couldn’t proceed up the mountain because traction tires were required ahead.  Aiming for the nearest good coffee shop, we drove west and away from the pass. On the way we passed through the small communities of Gold Bar and Startup, alighting in Sultan. I love that string of odd town names along State Route 2. And then the simple pleasures of a warm bathroom, hot chocolate and a macchiato.

A good day.


  1. I’ve often wondered if Oregon and Washington didn’t have more than its share of quirky town names… I’ve always thought that ‘Remote’ would be a cool address. It’s some miles down the road from here. It is, by the way, remote! Probably more so back in the day before all the bridges were built to cross the meandering river.

    Your images certainly convey the feel of a magical wonderland.


    • 🙂 Maybe so. There are good ones everywhere, but quite a few up here. I’m sure you’d come up with a good street address for that town. It would be something “Close” rather than “Road” or “Street” right? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your artistic captures of the hoar frost, Lynn, especially the picture of the golden leaves and the guard rail. I love those town names: Index, Index, Gold Bar, Startup, and Sultan. How I miss the Pacific Northwest. 🙂


    • Great to hear from you! I was thinking about summer down under. It won’t be long though, before the slow and subtle signs start appearing here. There’s a link above you might like – I have to fix the font color because it’s impossible to see the active link. Anyway, look for “They had been transformed into sculpture” – the 4th writing section. Click on the end of the sentence.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel chilled . And it’s wonderful 🙂
    Love your crystalline view of the hoar frost Lynn .. a frozen icy brittleness which feels it would shatter with a click of the fingers . The stillness is tangible . I’m surprised we didn’t catch sight of your billowing breath 😉 soon swopped for clouds of steaming hot chocolate by the sound of it . A good day indeed !


  4. I long for a bright frosty morning. These are lovely pictures Lynn. We are currently in the grip of one Atlantic depression after another, lining up they are to bring mild, dull, wet and windy weather.. ! 🙂


  5. That about describes a perfect day to me. And I know what you mean about getting lost and forgetting your frozen fingers and toes when this happens. I had the pleasure of a day like this on my birthday a few years ago, and I went to Rattlesnake lake. In addition to the amazing foliage, I saw osprey high above and watched the bald eagles hunting ducks and fish from the lake all afternoon. It was extraordinary….as are your lovely photos and commentary. It took me right back to the magical feeling that hoarfrost brings.


    • I never saw it do what it does here. I guess it’s regional, like many special weather conditions. Here, we rarely have the lovely soft snowfalls I remember from New York, but then, it was a real pain to shovel one’s car out of it. And the biting winds New York gets – ouch!


  6. Beautiful frost images, Lynn, too many to comment on individually – and I’m also very struck by the rather haunting image of the trees, which is directly below your words “I was lost”. Adrian 🙂


  7. What an excellent narrative to accompany the images, Lynn…it took me back, resurfaced memories of doing the exact same thing, not in Washington, mind you, but in that other time before I was back in the desert again.

    Such beautiful images, truly well captured. Thank you for sharing them with us. 🙂


    • I’m always happy the narrative is appreciated, too. Both the writing and the photography are fun to work on, as you know! Good to hear from you – and it reminds me that I need to finish working on my Arizona photos and get them posted.


  8. Thank so much! I don’t really understand why some cold places get more frost of this type than others. Maybe you’re due for a warmer winter – if that happens, I’m sure you’ll still make the most of it.


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