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.
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.