Winter’s Silver Lining

At this point of winter, we Northerners look for silver linings.

Many are the reasons to pity the poor Southerners, but one presented its silver self this morning.

Freezing fog and the delicate, sparkling rime it leaves behind.

I’m no meteorologist and I would have to look up the specific conditions that give us freezing fog, but Northerners know it is distinct from garden-variety frost.

In its wake, freezing fog leaves the most delicate fuzz of crystals on the entire outdoors. Every tree and twig and dried weed and fence post is enrobed so they all appear a bit softened, muted, as if behind a scrim.

(If you click on the photos, you can count the little spikes of ice!)

The temperature rises a degree or two, the sun comes out, and it’s gone. Winter is cold and a little bleak and hard-edged again. 

But we had our silver lining for a moment . . . and that counts for a lot during winter.

68 thoughts on “Winter’s Silver Lining

  1. Your favourites are my favourites too! What gorgeous pictures. I love winter (except for when the pavements ice over – I had a bad fall a couple of years ago and am now ridiculously nervous about walking on any surface which is remotely icy!). 🙂

      • Oh no, poor Hubby. I hope he has not suffered long term problems. I didn’t break anything, thankfully, but it was such a shock and I can’t really seem to get past it, even when other people are gaily walking along as if the pavements are normal. 😫😱

    • I don’t know the story of the cat. My mom bought him at a flea market in Florida and carried him in her lap for the flight north. We have him sitting atop our standard mailbox–a handsome devil!

    • No, I can see why your region would miss out on freezing fog! The mailbox is a good landmark to give people, to tell them how to recognize our house when they get here!

  2. Wonderful. You remind us of the beauty of winter. We’ve had a mild one so far, and I miss the bracing cold and its attendant pleasure, however much I may dislike feeling cold.

    • Our winter has been odd–very snowy in November but December was almost snow-free and warm. It’s very cold right now, though–thank goodness for central heating!

  3. I love your enjoyment of the cold! I’ve tried it both ways: a cold northern winter for 40+ years and now, the tropics. I miss the opportunities to wear wool, the sheer beauty of unmarked snow in the morning, the crackling flames of the woodstove… and then I remember the arthritic pain in my hands and hip, chillblains on my toes and a permanently red nose, the backbreaking labour of splitting and carrying the wood for the stove, and the mountains of clothes you need to put on just to step outside! To each of us, her own heaven. For you, hot chocolate, a roaring fire and the delicate beauty of snowdrops. For me, the scent of frangipani, warm black velvet nights, sparkling with huge stars, and the delicate beauty of shells picked up on a beach walk.

    • Honestly, I’d like to have both ways as options so I could bounce back and forth, according to mood! I wouldn’t want to live in tropical weather full-time, I know that, but it’s awfully nice to visit!

    • We have burrs, too, and my cats consistently bring them home from this same field (as well as ticks!) These teazles are taller and not quite as sticky–a different burr from a different kind of plant, I guess. But pretty!

  4. The closest I have seen to this in NZ is hoar frost, but I haven’t seen that for a very long time. The effect of the freezing fog is magical. I wouldn’t be surprised if the mailbox cat is secretly smiling at his handsome self.

  5. Beautiful! Freezing fog is a nightmare if you’re driving in it but, a bit like snow, beautiful to look at when you’re safely on your (snow booted) feet or tucked up indoors. I too love your mailbox. Do you have to have ‘official’ ones? Here in France it is ‘sort of’ the law to have standard issue mailboxes so that the postmen and women can open them with a key if there’s something that won’t go through the slot so they don’t have to knock on the door. I did rebel with a prettier one once but would often get told off because they don’t like getting out of their vans and ringing the doorbell unless it’s a big package that wouldn’t fit into the mailbox in any case. Now I conform for the sake of peace 😒

    • This specific fog was very light and not slippery, although you’re right, it can be awful! I should show a larger picture of the cat/mailbox. The box itself is more standard, although I don’t know if we are compelled to have these standard ones and they certainly don’t lock. My mom brought the cat from Florida, where she got him at a flea market, and he is affixed, standing on top of the mailbox and protecting it (since our box doesn’t lock!)

  6. Thank you for another exquisite blog post. I thought about you last month when I flew over NY state en route to Toronto. If I am remembering correctly, you live near a lake in upstate NY? Water is a magical substance… which your photos perfectly capture.

    • Hi, Will! Thanks for your consistent warmth! I do live on Lake Champlain in upstate NY. It’s a very long lake (over 120 miles, I think) and forms the border between upstate and Vermont. I hope you waved!

    • I can tell the cat lovers–you’re all commenting on my big copper cat! He’s perched out there–rain, sun, snow–for about 10 years now. I always love coming home to him (and the flesh and blood cats, too!)

  7. D > Well we ae certainly not softie southerners – by any stretch of the imagination! But, you know what, we only rarely get frost here in the Outer Hebrides, and in 16 years here no freezing fog! Thanks to your post, we realize how much we miss the kind of thing you describe.
    J > As to how freezing fog occurs, isn’t it when milder damper air moves over deeply frozen ground – and with sub-zero conditions above. A bit like an inversion layer. In Navarra, the valley of the Aragon around Sanguesa is renown for these conditions summer and winter, and in winter the result is freezing fog. Unfortunately we won’t get to experience it this winter – we left before the real cold got going.

  8. Everyone thinks we moved to SC for the warm winter weather but it’s not so! I love winter and particulalry snow…so I enjoyed your pictures. We had some nasty stuff (snow, sleet, rain) before Christmas which was the texture of granita! Luckily it melted pretty fast – no snowplows around here. We have been having very warm temperatures and I am worried about the bulbs and also the peach trees, which need several weeks of freezing temperatures.

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