Tag Archives: Ozark winter

Delicate Ice Beauty Frost Flowers

Morning temperatures in the upper teens to low twenties make the temptation to huddle in by the wood stove almost insurmountable. Delicate ice beauty waits out on the hills.

Frost flowers only appear a few mornings in the late fall. Huddle up by the wood stove those mornings and you will miss them. Bundle up and walk out to the woods to savor one of winter’s beauties.

The dittany plant sends out several thin stems with paired leaves. In late summer sprays of flowers are at each leaf pair.

Only a few plants create frost flowers. Dittany is an easy to find reliable one for me. It is a small plant so the frost flowers are only one to five inches tall.

pair of delicate ice beauty
The ribbons of ice in a frost flower vary in thickness creating a textured look. The thickness is barely that of a sheet of paper.

Dittany is a mint family member and grows in open wooded hillsides. The plant is about a foot tall with thin stems and opposite triangular leaves. It puts out sprays of light lavender tube flowers in late August. When frost comes, the stems and leaves turn brown and stand up through the drifts of fallen leaves.

Hillsides tend to stay warmer than valleys so the first few cold mornings generally don’t affect the hillsides. It takes several cool days and temperatures dropping down into the low twenties to upper teens to trigger frost flowers.

ribbons of delicate ice beauty frost flower
The dittany stem is less than an eighth of an inch in diameter. The amount of ice ribbon that comes out of such a small stem is amazing.

Dittany holds moisture in its stems. When the temperatures drop, the water freezes, splits the stem and oozes out as a delicate ice beauty. These ribbons of ice swirl around forming coats around the stems or spread out along the ground. Some form ice rings.

Each frost flower is unique. Each delicate ice beauty is fleeting. One touch crumbles it. A ray of sun melts it.

swirls of delicate ice beauty frost flower
Many of the frost flowers have this general shape as the ribbons ooze out of the stems and curl around it. Yet each frost flower is unique.

This year had a wet fall so the dittany loaded up on moisture. Then the temperatures plunged to the upper teens for two mornings. I knew the frost flowers had to be out on the hill.

The goats wanted breakfast. The wood stove beckoned. I went walking on the hills for a time. The frost flowers were magnificent.

Find more frost flower photographs in “My Ozark Home”.

Snowfall Number Five Arrives

Snowfall, snowfall number five,

Who invited you to come

Spoiling dreams of spring and sun,

Leaving toes and fingers numb?

Snowfall, snowfall number five,

You are not welcome today.

March brings spring and flowers and rain.

Blankets white and cold away!

Snowfall number five ices cardinal's perch
Snowfall number five began with a layer of ice leaving birds with cold perches in the trees. This female cardinal is puffed up to keep warmer in the cold and waiting for her turn eating at the bird feeder.

Snowfall, snowfall number five,

Leaving birds to hunt for food,

Shiver, frozen water too.

Mean and cruel I must conclude.

Snowfall number five buries sparrow's food
Sparrows hop along the ground finding weed seeds and other morsels to eat. Snowfall number five left them looking in vain. The bird feeder became a popular spot.

Snowfall, snowfall number five,

Be the last to come by here.

Spring is due so let it come.

Have a heart and give us cheer.

Reports from other places makes our five little snowfalls look like nothing much. Only a few times has the temperature dropped to near zero and never below. The cold spells last a week and warmer times return.

Ozark winters usually aren’t that bad. I remember some up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and know why we moved.

One of the things that didn’t move with us is the clothing. In places with cold winters, wool clothes are common and warm. They are only available by catalog in the Ozarks. Cotton isn’t nearly as warm.

Warm boots aren’t as easy to find around here either. Cold feet leave me cold no matter how warmly I dress otherwise.

Snowfall number five scattered snow on the hills and rocks along the creek.
Snowfall number five dropped three inches. Wind blew much of it off the hills. Enough was left to put a white backdrop behind the trees. Quiet areas of the creek had a skin of ice.

Snow may be fun for some people. In town one road is blocked off as it goes down a great sledding hill. Snowball fights, building snowmen and other activities are fun too.

Milking and chores are not fun done slogging through the snow. My barn door is on the north side and the snow soon packs into ice. Maybe I can find snap on cleats for my boots.

Better yet, warm sun melts the snow and the ice. Then I get to slog through mud for a few days. Still, I prefer mud and so do the animals including my cabin fevered chickens and goats.

Enjoy more pictures of Ozark winters in “My Ozark Home.”

Winter Hiking Weather

So far winter in the Ozarks is following the new pattern. Cold moves in for a few days. Warmer temperatures move in for a few days. The latter are good winter hiking weather.

All spring and summer I take plant pictures. I do download and file them in a file for that year. Winter is the time to go over the pictures and try to complete plant picture sets for the botany project.

winter hiking weather good for seeing American Holly

American Holly is a holiday plant with its green leaves and red berries. Winter is a good time to see it.

The other day I set off for ShawneeMac Lakes Conservation Area. American Holly grows there. It isn’t supposed to grow in Dent County, but it didn’t read the book.

Holly is an evergreen shrub. I took a picture of it last summer. Green holly against green trees defeats the purpose of the picture: to show what the plant looks like.

In winter holly is still green. The other trees, shrubs etc. are not green, don’t have leaves to hide the holly. Winter is the time to get the plant picture. Winter hiking weather is the time to go walking.

geese on ShawneeeMac Lakes during winter hiking weather

Canada geese do make themselves known by honking loudly from near shore. They are silent as the flock glides across the lake.

The lakes were full of water after a wet fall. The short leaf pines looked lovely. The sunny day had brought other hikers out on the trail.

The trails around the lakes are easy walking. The lake views from the various bridges showed the extent of the lakes much more than when trees block them. A flock of Canadian geese were enjoying the lakes.

watching Canada geese during winter hiking weather

Canada geese can become nuisances. They seem to visit ShawneeMac Lakes on a short term basis.

Several of the holly plants were decked out with red berries. Holly has two plants. The male produces the pollen. The females produce the berries. A number of plants including American persimmons have that arrangement.

Now I have the American Holly plant picture. The next time winter hiking weather arrives, I will be back out on the trail to take winter bud pictures of various trees, shrubs and woody vines.

Enjoy nature for all seasons in Exploring the Ozark Hills, a book of nature essays and photographs.