Grit Blogs > A Lakeside View

Ferns, Feathers, and Frost

By Cindy Murphy


Tags: Frost patterns, winter, art found in Nature, Cindy Murphy,

When I went outside Thursday morning, it appeared as if someone had drawn on the windows of my car overnight.  Crystallized ferns and frosty feathers had been etched upon the windshield.

 Feathers and Ferns 

These feathery patterns occur when the air is heavy with moisture.  Water molecules on cold glass quickly freeze; when the molecules contact microscopic scratches on the glass surface, “seeding crystals” are formed.   Additional water molecules rapidly latch onto these seed crystals, growing into intricately graceful fern-like designs. 

I almost hated to turn on the defroster; it seemed a shame to destroy nature’s artwork.   I wished I could see the patterns backlit by the sun, and let Nature herself wipe clean the glass canvas on which she painted this picture.  But I had to get Shannon to orchestra practice; Zero Hour classes take place at 0’dark-thirty before the school buses start running, and before the sun shines.  The only backlighting on the windshield was from the red glow of taillights as Keith backed out of the driveway, heading to work. 

 Graceful Patterns 

Fanny Price, Jane Austen’s heroine of Mansfield Park, says, “One cannot fix one’s eyes on the commonest natural production without finding food for a rambling fancy.”  Nature is full of surprises.  Even the most fanciful ramblings of my imagination could not produce the magical beauty found in something as commonplace as frost on a windshield in February. 

  Nature's Artwork 

nebraska dave
3/2/2012 2:59:53 PM

Ha, I didn't know that window crawling would be a much needed skill in homesteading and gardening. Well, I have to admit to crawling through a few windows myself until a hidden outside key for the house and a car key in two different pockets came into play. It's a little old age wisdom thing.


cindy murphy
3/2/2012 1:06:43 PM

HA! Don't feel sorry for laughing, Michelle. I did the same when I read your story....because I could picture it so very, very clearly. I've locked myself out too - many times - only it was the house, not the car. There's been many a' window I've crawled through. Have a great weekend!


michelle house
2/29/2012 3:55:25 AM

LOL, sorry Cindy, but I laughed at that visual in my mind. When I lived in Alaska, frozen doors were pretty common. I too, have done the same thing, only it was when I locked the keys in my son-in-laws jeep. Thankfully the back window, did not lock, and I was able to crawl over the bowling equipment, the backseat into the front seat. I must have been a sight to see. :D Like you were. lol.


cindy murphy
2/26/2012 12:57:26 PM

I've never seen frost like that either, Dave. I read it only happens on glass that is very clean. Keith changed my wiper blades the night before, so that probably explains why I was gifted with such a pretty picture the next morning. Usually my windshield is just one big smear of road grime. Hope you've found something to do with all that pent-up energy this weekend; here it snowed - I'm going skiing!


cindy murphy
2/26/2012 12:49:55 PM

Oh, I familiar with ice, Michelle.....way too familiar. To get inside the car that morning, I had to get in the backdoor of the passenger's side, and crawl over the seat to the front. It was the only door I could get open - the rest were frozen shut.


cindy murphy
2/26/2012 12:47:07 PM

Thanks, Lori. I took the photos with my new camera - just a cheap point-and-click, but it takes much better pictures than my old point-and-click. None of the pictures though, do the real thing justice.


nebraska dave
2/25/2012 3:02:07 PM

Cindy, that's way cool. I don't think I've ever seen that happen in Nebraska. Nature does have a way of showing us beauty beyond what we can imagine. I've kind of had enough of frosty weather even though we haven't had much this winter. I'm so smitten with the Spring time bug this year. I expect that your nursery is gearing up to start receiving plant orders for the Spring rush. I have my seeds and stand ready to start them growing but oooohhh it's so hard to wait for the proper time to do that. Maybe I can disperse that winter pent up energy with some outside work this next week. Just poking around with yard cleanup and garden setup might help some. The backyard garden will be just for fresh eating this year. That's an entirely different kind of planning. I hope you are well rested from the winter hibernation because the work load is about to get crazy again. Have a great Michigan nursery preparation.


michelle house
2/25/2012 2:25:40 AM

How pretty!!! All we ever get is a solid sheet of ice, not pretty at all. lol. I am glad you took pictures, it is beautiful.


lori dunn
2/25/2012 2:06:22 AM

Cindy, Great job of capturing Nature's grand artwork! That really is beautiful!