Impossible to narrow these down to any fewer pictures, starting off with more than a couple hundred, nearly a vacation's worth, taken during not even a couple of hours. Again, impossible to truly capture the feel of actually being here. Almost impossible to believe even when you are. An impossibly beautiful and magical wonderland. Easy to get lost in. Hard to walk away from.
Caught up in it all, somewhere along the way I set my mittens down and, probably close to an hour later, with freezing fingers and my real life responsibilities back inside the house calling me, I had to track and retrace my wandering footsteps through the snow to find them.
Warmish days followed by cold, clear nights, and fog in the more open and low-lying spots on our place seem to be just the right formula to create this each of the last few mornings. The longest of these crystalline formations were about one inch long. It only lasts as long as it stays cold enough, until the sun comes up and warms the air enough to make it all either fall or drip down to the ground below. By noon, at the latest, it's all gone.
Even so, it was only on the grasses and trees down in the open field. See? Not at all on the only slightly higher hillside.
Hoarfrost A deposit of interlocking ice crystals (hoar crystals) formed by direct sublimation on objects, usually those of small diameter freely exposed to the air, such as tree branches, plant stems and leaf edges, wires, poles, etc., which surface is sufficiently cooled, mostly by nocturnal radiation, to cause the direct sublimation of the water vapor contained in the ambient air.
I wasn't really even sure if this was the name for it until poking around online. Of course, no surprise, there's an entire Flickr pool's worth of photos.
"Hoarfrost" or "rime" seem too harsh of words for such a fleeting and fragile phenomenon. "Frost ferns" or "fairy frost" (although not this one nor this one) seem more like it, or even the common explanation, "the work of Jack Frost."
Last summer's skinny grass stems cast thick, fuzzy shadows in the low, winter, morning sunshine.
If you listen quietly, and gently brush the sparkling crystalline ferns off and onto the snow below, it sounds like the tiniest of glass fairy's bells tinkling into the crisp cold air.