11 December 2008

Ice painting

My kitchen window gave us a spectacular display Wednesday morning. The temperature dropped to -18C (-5F I think) overnight. We hang wool blankets over the windows at night in the winter, when we pulled them up in the morning we were greeted with this ice sculpture or ice painting. As the sun came up and the light changed, the ice painting transformed.This is an hour before sun-up, when the winter sun lolls below the horizon. The flash reflects off the ice formation.
With the sky lightening up I could get a detail of the ice fans.
The sun just peeked over the horizon.
The sun is now completely over the horizon.

And here, with the sun working its way to the south along the horizon, I could get the whole window lit up.
It is full light now, about 9am, but the sun has not burned off the night chill yet.

By about 10am the ice began to melt. It reminded me of Tibetan butter sculptures which they carefully carve out of colored butter, then put out under the sun. As the sun melts the sculptures they are reminded of the transience and preciousness of life.

It remained about -8C all day, so by 3pm, an hour and a bit before sunset, the ice fans began to form again. It was hard to capture them on camera because of the white background of the snow and sky. But they showed up against the wood of the front porch.

They look like feathers with a quill along the middle.

They were forming fast enough to watch the progress. It was quite beautiful. And quite distracting as well, I couldn't help but watch my window most of the day. Between chores and meals, canning meat, rendering tallow and winnowing wheat. It was like having the art museum come to my kitchen. Life is what you make of it out here. It's the details, things you might easily miss, that make it a life worth living.


Susy said...

That's amazing!

Lilyane said...


Your window are beautifull! At the end of your post you speak about rendering tallow. How do you rend tallow? Is it clear/clean enough to make pie dought? I try using bacon fat but it does not work well...



Freija and Beringian Fritillary said...

Lilyane, the beef tallow I am rendering is for soap making. I have never used it for cooking, but beef fat is more similar to cold butter in consistency. It is harder than pig fat, so it could possibly be used for pie crust. I will give it a try and see if it works.