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.
It’s hard to say whether dogs are philosophical observers of the universe around them, wondering at the world as it flits past their existential mindset … or if they are simply easily distracted.
I think I’d like to think it’s the former.
My dog and I go on three walks a day lately. This time last year, just as the snow was starting to fall, she was a two-month-old puppy and was limited to exploring the world on a short leash in the containment of our backyard.
A year later, and we’re touring the neighbourhood by foot with regularity, often meeting new people and new dogs, stopping to sniff virtually anything … well, she does most of the sniffing.
I’m not oblivious to the world around me, but after forty-five years something as mundane as a patch of grass sticking from the snow or a blue jay sitting on the branch of a tree is ordinary enough that I think my brain just naturally tunes it all out.
But not her.
Everything is a curiosity. Everything is worth stopping and savouring. If that’s not the definition of existential delight at the world … and if we can’t learn a even just little bit from that .. I don’t know what else there is to say.
I am not a poet, but a friend has inspired me to read more of it and think more critically about its place in the constellation of my creative pursuits. Occasionally, I’d like to post a poem here when inspiration strikes.
boundary demarcated by strict panels of hewn lumber set against remnant forest clinging to a river edge and traced between the trees a path serpentine cut through snow-covered scrub bracing a tizzy of birdsong against a distant whir of highway traffic muffled by branches reaching for sunlight bare in the january chill and traced between the trees footprints packing a temporary record into the snow recalling a moment or a hundred like it inspired to ignore one more boundary