Springtime in Newfoundland can be a frustrating, trying time. The snow melts, the air warms, sometimes the buds open on the trees and then we get a major blizzard that shuts everything down for two or three days.
That's what happened this week. It looked like winter was done and the warm days of spring were about to descend. Then, we got hammered with three snowstorms in a row, the last one alone dumping 30 cm (about a foot) of the white stuff. That was followed by a full day of freezing rain. On top of that, we've got ice beginning to drift into the bay.
It would all be terrible if it wasn't so damn beautiful.
And that's the saving grace in all this. The freezing rain, in particular, takes everyday objects and sculpts them into objects of art, all unique and absolutely spellbinding. They offer an endless variety of photographic possibilities. But they are ephemeral too, completely at the mercy of a slight rise in temperature, so one has to grab the moments as they happen. That is what I did on Thursday, March 20.
Some visitors to this blog are Newfoundlanders away' and a few of you have never been to this part of the world. So this week's photo feature is for those people. As for the rest of you, well, I hope these images don't make you suicidal.
Please click on the images for a larger view. You really need to do this!
Photos One and Two: These were taken a bit further up the valley from where I live. I snapped the first one, of the ice-encrusted trees, on the shoulder of the road, then looked straight down the hill to snap the second. You will note that the copse of evergreens has much less ice, due to the difference in elevation of perhaps 75 feet (it's a little warmer down there).
Photo Three: Such frail tendrils, covered in many times their weight and thickness in solid ice, seem in danger of snapping off. What saves them is their greenness' which gives them strength and flexibility (dry wood would snap long before this point).
Photo Four: Some trees are saved from breaking by the reinforcing power of the ice itself. However, those that go into a lean are at dire risk of snapping off.
Photo Five: The ice on this tree trunk appears to have shattered. However, it's actually air bubbles and water trapped under the ice, which was melting rapidly. In fact, the forest was clattering with the noise of ice dropping from trees. It sounded like an earthquake at a chandelier store.
Photos Six and Seven: Two close-ups of twigs thickly layered in ice. I like the evergreen needles, poking defiantly from their glass jacket, waiting patiently for the invader to retreat.
Photo Eight: This shaft of ice dropped from the power lines above and cut like a spear into the snow. It's about two inches wide and at least three feet long, if you include what's buried in the snow. Can you imagine this falling on your head?
Photo Nine: The north-facing side of the bird feeder at my house was deeply layered in ice. Fortunately, the birds could still feed on the leeward side.
Photo Ten: The protective mesh around the trampoline in my backyard was completely laminated in ice. Normally this netting is virtually transparent, like a window screen.
Photo Eleven: The entire forest was bowing in supplication to the gods of weather, perhaps praying for rising temperatures to unload their burden. Some of the trees seemed to be lurching awkwardly through the forest, like celebrants leaving a pub at closing time. Others had that stooped, brooding look of the Ents, those colossal walking trees in Lord of the Rings, while others reminded of Triffids, the killer plants from the sci-fi classic.
Photos Twelve and Thirteen: Two views of Conception Bay, with Kelly's Island dominant in both. The trees in the foreground add visual interest to the first pic, but the background is also quite pleasing to the eye. The ocean is so calm, you can see the island reflected in its surface a rare thing around here. The final shot is a wide view of the bay, though it only captures about 50 per cent of the ocean view plane. You can see this year's ice drifting into the bay, conveyed from further north by the Labrador current. That same current will be delivering icebergs to these shores in a couple of months. The sun is peeking through slightly in the last shot, creating a highlight area on the ice near the centre of the image. If the sun had been shining, the colour and mood of this shot would be transformed completely, with bright blue water and sky, brilliant reflections off the water and ice, and more detail in the land both foreground and distant.