OK, so we didn't get heavy snow or subzero temperatures, this is Florida, afterall. But that didn't stop the headline POLAR VORTEX from splashing (er, freezing) across the local front pages. To me it sounded like a unique winter photo op -- heavy rains followed by back-to back nights of mid-20s. My friend Bob Thompson had the same idea. So we plotted to find some cool ice on the 2nd frozen morning, and find it we did!
The wetlands along Shadeville Road were our planned meeting place. Turned out, they had too much water to freeze well. No ice. A dud. Bob had driven up from Medart, and having an alert eye, spotted some ice in the woods along the way. He stopped to check it out. We'd planned to look at the cypress dome in Wakulla Springs State Park next, but Bob, with a twinkle in that eye and playful grin, suggested we try the little wetland he'd found on his way there.
When we arrived, my immediate reaction was that of "a kid in a candy shop". Though I am a Florida native, I wasn't naive to frosty winter beauty, having seen plenty of it in snow, ice, glaciers, and icebergs. However, I'd never witnessed such magic in ice like that displayed before me. As you know, I'm drawn to abstract compositions in nature... here, aplenty! The only problem, as I saw it, was how our eyes (and those of our cameras) could take it all in before it was gone in just a few hours. Bob and I set to work.
This transient wetland was shallow enough to allow ice to dramatically sheet on the first night. Leaves and twigs poking up through the ice provided foci for crystallization. The sandy soil was also quickly soaking up the rainwater, so the water level was falling, leaving some of the ice sheets suspended in the cold air. With just enough shade the following chilly day, a lot of the ice survived into the second night of freezing. New ice enveloped the old, and new patterns, fractures, and crystals developed wild artsy formations.
In her ego-free manner, Mother Nature had crafted a complex masterpiece, one that, by design would disappear as fast as it was created... like her sunsets, tidal beach sands, clouds, and so many other of her works of art. These are reminders of the elegance, preciousness, and impermanence of all things earthly, of our own transience. We are both diamonds and dust... or maybe a more apt metaphor here, crystals and water.
Here is my best effort to record the moment.
...And then, the moment's gone.