Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ice Storm!

 The only ice I care to see is in my tea in high summer. I hate ice storms. I'm ok with snow, rain, hail, whatever Nature throws at us (well, with the exceptions of tornadoes and drought) but ice storms are so relentlessly destructive, I dread them most of all.

This one started out innocently enough, a light rain mixed with a little sleet, but then the temperatures dropped just to the freezing mark and the rain turned to ice that started building up on the trees. It rained all day, and it just kept building up, and up, and soon trees and shrubs started bending double, their topmost branches touching the ground. It isn't cold enough for the streets to freeze with traffic-stopping ice but with nearly a half-inch of ice coating, power lines are sagging and snapping, causing power outages everywhere and police and utility companies to urge everyone to stay at home and not be out roaming the streets, gawking and getting in the way.

                          Shrub honeysuckle, nearly touching the ground. This is an upright bush.
The crashing sounds coming from all around are the most disheartening. We looked out to see our old Washington hawthorn toppled over, its root system heaving the ground, and big branches snapped off an old redbud in the front yard. I'm holding my breath over the dogwoods. One fairly young white one didn't lose its leaves this fall and it is bent double with an ice load on its leaves; but this is not the first time for it, and it recovered before, so we're hoping for the best this time too. A huge hackberry has lost at least one limb, and our bald cypress cross Nanjing Beauty is kissing the ground with it's top branches. We're hoping it and the white pines are flexible enough that once the ice is gone they will snap back upright.

Nanjing Beauty cypress cross. Does this not make your heart stop to look at it?

Hackberry branch is broken and down, as are many other big branches in the woods garden. Lots of cleanup looming in January.
There are quite a few old oaks and other trees in the surrounding woods that have been damaged by the droughts of 2011 and 2012, and Mother Nature is doing a pretty severe pruning job on them, taking out deadwood and causing many of the scary crashing noises.

The ice has turned our chaotic garden into a glassy crystal fairyland, though, in spite of the damage it is causing, lending an uncommon beauty to dead seed heads, grasses and tree branches.


Sedum Autumn Joy, encased in ice, looking like exquisite art glass
seedpods of Rose of Sharon

Euonymous alatus Compacta ( Burning bush) fruit
But the flock of flamingos that hang out by our vintage Airstream trailer appear to have their own opinion of this weather: "When's the next bus to Florida?"


Mahonia (Oregon Grape Holly) doesn't appear to be fazed at all by its icy frosting
"Winter crowns the earth with crystals rare
And places diamonds in her hair."

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