I am a big fan of Russian film and literature. Nature, wildlife and the landscape is often at the forefront of this great field of art. It’s the beating heart of the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, the poems of Anna Akhmatova and the short stories of Anton Chekhov. The vastness of Russia’s landscapes is central to much of the art to have come out of that amazing and poorly understood country (especially in the UK & US).
In Chekhov’s short stories there are simple, beautiful descriptions of nature. Chekhov travelled widely as a doctor, treating people across Siberia. It’s where he also found time to write his short stores, and much of that work was inspired by his encounters with ‘ordinary people’. The first place that I ever heard of hoar frost, was in one of his short stories.
Living in cities for most of my life where the heat-island effect quickly melted frost and ice, I didn’t really have the chance to see this until moving out to Sussex.
Ground frost forms when the air is still and cold, usually on clear winter nights. Water vapour in the air condenses on solid surfaces, and as the surface temperature drops below 0°C, ice crystals form.The Woodland Trust: What is hoar frost and how does it form?
The other day on a morning walk before starting work, I saw something close to it. The night before had been clear and full of stars. In the morning I was walking near the river Arun when I began to notice the heavily-frosted grass heads of bent, on the edge of a tennis court where the strimmer can’t reach.
Frost will always remind me of my dad telling us as children that if you put your hand down the sides of the bed Jack Frost would get you (I wrote about this almost exactly a year ago). The cold down there felt so real. Dad got this story from his childhood, when he and his siblings would wake up in their house in Liverpool to find frost inside the windows. My grandmother would greet them all and say that Jack Frost had been to visit. Apparently they absolutely loved that he’d dropped by in the night!
I didn’t have a macro lens with me on this walk, but I pushed my camera’s capabilities to that point. Looking closely at a frosted web which was beginning to lose its frostiness, I noticed a non-biting midge that had become trapped probably days before. The beads of the melted frost were trapped in its hairy antennae and around its limbs. It would look spectacular in extreme close up, but without that equipment at the time, a view of the ‘unfortunate’ insect’s final resting space will suffice.
Thanks for reading.