Winter Wonderland

Teasels in frost by Lucy Rix

Join Lucy Rix as she enjoys the recent hoar frost that decorated our landscapes...

It’s been a strange festive period for most of us. Normally I would be away over the Christmas period taking time to unplug in Norfolk but this year meant staying at home. Many people found themselves alone and adrift rather than with their families but I do feel that in Worcestershire we were given a rather lovely gift to brighten our days in the period between Christmas and New Year.

I love snow if I don’t need to go anywhere, so it was a real joy to wake to unexpected snow just before New Year. Living on a farm means that there are many fields to explore and these look particularly beautiful in the snow. Possibly the farmer might not agree as it must make the farm work harder but for the rest of us it’s a delight.

Even more magical than the white fields were the mornings when a hoar frost had settled. Hoar frost is a type of feathery frost that forms when water vapour in the air comes into contact with solid surfaces that are already below freezing point. Ice crystals form and the ice grows as more water vapour is frozen. The word hoar comes from old English and relates to the characteristics of age, such as being white-haired. This is due to the way that hoar frost will sometimes look like ice hair growing on trees and branches.

Farm pond and hoar frost by Lucy Rix

Pond and farmhouse in frost by Lucy Rix

On the farm the hoar frost took hold of not only trees, branches and 'weeds', such as hogweed and teasels still holding on firm after the summer, but also the gates and wooden posts around the farm. It has a way of highlighting the patterns in nature for us and showing the intricacies of these more closely. Writer and naturalist Emma Mitchell writes in her book 'The Wild Remedy' how taking notice of the small details in nature can help our brain patterns to shift and, as a result, alleviate anxiety and depression. She writes of her own depression: ‘When I spend time in a wild place or a garden and notice the small details of the plants, trees and wildlife that inhabit it, the symptoms of my depression are eased.’

For many people, and especially this year, December and January can be a difficult period. I felt particularly grateful to the hoar frost and the snow during this period for brightening up what feels like a very dark time.

 

Lucy is a Worcestershire-based freelance writer who loves getting out into nature and is interested in the how the wild world can benefit our wellbeing.