Friday, 26 March 2010

No more this year please!

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelp'd by any wind.
From 'Frost at Midnight' by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 - 1834
On Tuesday Jack Frost painted intricate patterns on our conservatory roof. His mastery of the icy brush is sublime and astonishing.
Before homes were centrally heated, when the one source of heat in the house was a coal fire in the communal sitting room it was fun to toast crumpets on the end of a long toasting fork, roast chestnuts, throw salt on the fire to see the flames flare briefly in a gorgeous show of dazzling greens and blues. It was homely and companionable to sit close to the fire although I knew I risked scorching my legs and developing chilblains on my hands and feet. I tried to hoard the warmth in my body like a storage heater to sustain me as I scurried out into the arctic extremities of the rest of the house, filled my hot water bottle and dashed to bed in my freezing room. The sheets felt glacial as I tucked my feet up inside my nightdress, turning myself into a foetal entity in a cheerless womb. Gradually, the bed became warmer, I relaxed and slept and stretched, to wake hours later to the unpleasant sensation of cold flabby rubber, unless, of course, there was a cosy cover on my hot water bottle.
Now the next challenge faced me. I had to leave my warm, comforting nest and step out onto the cold floor. I would delay the moment as long as possible, the tip of my nose attesting to the extremity of the temperature. Even thus, when I looked at the window panes, I wondered at the beauty I saw etched on the inside of the glass, glittering and glistening in the early morning light. Curiosity would overcome dislike of the cold and I would draw closer to examine the remarkable and transitory works of art.
Those days were long ago and though I certainly do not miss the iciness of an unheated house, the compensations, for a child at least, were not to be understated.
I hope we have seen the last of heavy frosts this year. This week's offering did not touch the grass or the pond – I suppose it was an 'air frost' - the temperature was 1˚Celsius (33.8˚ Fahrenheit) I know that if the pond freezes the frogspawn will be killed. When this happens it turns milky white and then decays and another generation of frogs is lost, to this garden at least.


  1. I remember those times. We had stone hotties and often I would stub my toe on mine. We had no fitted carpet either so cold feet were common. Until I was 9 we had an outside toilet and a trip down the yard with a torch was dreadful. Your frost shots are great, they look like feathers when enlarged.

  2. What a beautiful pattern. In Belgium when we visit the rooms have stoves that heat the rooms, supplemented with modern heating.

  3. You brought back some practically identical memories of my childhood. I put myself right back to the one coal fire, the chillblains, the crumpets toasting, the cold sheets and the hot water bottle. And your photos of the frosty patterns are lovely.

  4. Love those frost patterns - Jack Frost is quite the artist! And I too grew up in a house where there would be ice on the inside of the windows on winter mornings.


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