Thursday, January 15, 2009
Norah and I went for a walk on our neighborhood's golf course yesterday. It's wooded and left wild along the outside edges of its fairways and the course is located right next to a large reservoir.
The famous educator Charlotte Mason encouraged students of nature to visit and observe the same wild places throughout the year, studying how the plants there will change from one season to another. We've explored several more remote places around the state, but I haven't found it practical enough to visit any of the same locations more than once or twice a year, especially since many state parks and their trails close for the winter. So, I am resolved to make our "wild places" the ones in our own neighborhood, hoping that will make our visits more frequent and practical.
I rigged Norah's sled with a jump rope so I could pull her behind me on top of the frozen snow. It worked well, but she didn't want to ride the entire time. She really enjoyed having the freedom to run far ahead of me on the deserted course, exploring the tree line and sledding down the gentle slopes on the fairways again and again.
You can see from the pictures above that one tree lost two large branches from the weight of the ice that covered them during the recent frozen rain. But, my favorite picture is the last. From far away, I saw a flowering bush that sparkled like a crystal chandelier. But, when I got close enough to inspect it, I saw that unbelievably large, solid chunks of ice were dangling from all the delicate, dry blossoms that covered the bush.
The ice chunks like the one in the picture above must have formed when the thinner sheets of ice that covered the stems and blossoms started to melt, moving tiny drops downward, but then freezing them again before they ever reached the ground and repeating this process over and over. You can almost see gravity pulling the water molecules downward. But, behold the amazing cohesive and adhesive properties of water! The water molecules are clinging to one another while also gripping the last, tiny parts of the blossoms for dear life!