Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jack Frost's Touch

 With the recent cold weather - twenty and more degrees below normal - and some moisture added at regular intervals, certain windows on the house traditionally receive Jack Frost's delicate touch. The window in Mom's second floor bedroom, which faces north, has the prettiest structures I've ever seen.

 These delicate icy flowers blossomed on the left side of the pane. They look like a white dove's feathers stuck to the glass. The structure is lacy and complicated. Have a closer look:

 What pattern was followed for this artist? Can't you imagine a fern's leaf? Certainly the structure uses mathematical fractals. If I could zoom further, I'd expect the pattern to reduce and yet always be the same. It is a crystalline structure, built upon some unseen seed, mere moisture at its heart. It repeats endlessly.

 And yet move but 18" to the right (staying on the same pane of glass) and that very same moisture has grown into vertical lines. The feathery whorls are gone, replaced by lacy lines. Why, so close, is the structure so far away? The artist scribbles, sketches, practices.
 These examples form, of course, on the outside of the glass. We are warm and snug inside. Only one other windows - a south-facing second floor bathroom window - exhibits similar icing. Perhaps these windows leak a little and the moisture I see is not so much from snow as from our very breath? In any case, I may watch Jack Frost work nightly, painting new patterns with his unseen icy brush. Who would have thought that mere water could be so pretty?