hoar frosty

hOr / frawst(noun)

From the old English, hoar frost evokes the hairy, beard-like frost that grows upon trees and other outdoor objects when the combination of temperature and humidity crystalize ice in a white, icy fuzz on all the surfaces of the world.

It is a kind of magical scene, assuming it is not too cold to be outside.

The dog and I felt compelled to walk for over an hour through this wintery wonderland.

If you thought it was magic walking through a gentle snowfall in the evening, with the flakes drifting through the air all around you and in every direction like stars descending slowly through the spaces and places, try instead walking through a winter forest the morning after a fog when the hoar frost covers literally every branch with a frozen crystalline twinkle.

To reach out an touch the delicate ice is to destroy it, either shattering or melting it into nothingness, back to dusty snow or a drop of cold dew on your fingertip.

And as the sun reaches into the sky, the apricity sublimates it back into the atmosphere, like fairy dust returning to the magical source, suddenly and subtly gone without explanation. The fungal-like growth slinks back into whence it came.

To walk between and under trees covered in hoar frost is to feel the deep cold of mid-winter with your eyes and to understand the power of nature to decorate itself in such a visualization of the weather.

Powerful and gentle, peaceful and extreme.






Community spirit comes in many different shapes and sizes.

Sometimes it comes in the shape and size of a larger-than-life travelling sign that shows up mysteriously in parks around the city.

ED - mō - wo͝od

A nonsense name and (I assume) a portmanteau of the name of our city “Edmonton” and the name of a much more famous city “Hollywood” erected as an homage to the famous landmark of the latter. Mystery. Puzzle. Social media treasure hunt. Spirit-boosting community game. Who knows which for sure.

I was driving my daughter to school this morning and looking off to the side of the freeway into a familiar park through which I’ve run and hiked countless times, the increasingly-famous rogue art display stood tall in the brown spring grass.

On my way back home I made a point of pulling off the road, driving down the access road, parking, and walking the hundred meters into the empty park to snap a couple photos.

On this wordy Wednesday, someone else had done my work for me and provided a word they thought could brighten a gloomy day and bring a little joy to a city in pandemic lockdown.

I’d say they succeeded.

That’s one powerful random nonsense word I’d never heard of until about 730 this morning.


The horizon-hugging sun of autumn and spring passing through the crisp, frosty air often whistles to her a pair of trusty companions: sundogs.

SUNN - dawg

Simply, sunlight refracting through ice crystals in the clouds creating a lens or halo effect in the sky.

Listed among my favourite words is sundog.

We had finished our recent Sunday Run and had gathered (socially distantly, of course) in the parking lot to chat and chatter. In the frosty sky to the east the glare of the sunlight through the wisps of clouds highlighted a pair of sundogs punctuating hours of the long spring dawn.

With similar optical physics to how a rainbow appears, I suspect, the photons of light of our sun scatter in a predictable path as they pass through the billions of billions of microscopic ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. The sky itself acts as though it is a miles-wide prism or lens, and the illusion that meets our eyes is a pair of visible flares approximately twenty-two degrees to the left and the right of the sun itself.

Or more poetically, the sun tracks through these cool spring skies with her sundogs by her side and surveys the world as it thaws beneath our feet.


One of my favourite winter words is apricity.


Simply, it means the warmth of the sun in the winter.

It is a poetic word, in a way.

The word apricity has an ineffable quality in that it is difficult to articulate what it means to someone who has never gone for a long winter walk under a brisk blue sky and felt the radiant heat of the sun on your cheeks contrasting with the frozen air.

Apricity is the tangible tingling that pat your on the shoulders when you break from the shadows of snow-covered trees and step out into a ray of sunlight.

The feeling of the sun crawling over the horizon late in the morning of a deep winter run and warming the bits of exposed flesh chilled by the pre-dawn trails is apricity.

I live in a climate where apricity is less rare, but still a cherished moment in which to pause and let it all wrap around you like a wool blanket no matter where you are or what you are doing.

The warmth of the sun in the winter. Apricity.