150 Firework Finale150 Firework Finale

The Forest Crystals

January 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

  Finally being able to take advantage of some "off" time together as a family, my husband, daughters, and I went for a walk in our new neighbourhood to explore our surroundings. We found a trail a bit off the beaten path, and after following it for some time, it took a turn into those kind of woods that have their own quiet dark and damp chill, with close trees, moss-covered logs, and old growth... the kind of forest I absolutely love. This one, however, also revealed an unexpected and almost magical phenomenon: the forest floor was covered in what appeared to be bunches of crystals!

  Disappointingly, it was almost dark at the time my husband first spotted them, so I only managed a few quick shots with my macro lens before we had to get out of the very-likely-coyote-inhabited forest before full night. We really didn't know what they were - ice, or fungi? They were not cold to the touch at all, but did bust apart like tinkling glass underfoot.

  Close-ups with my macro lens revealed them to be almost fibrous, like a sort of cilia. They had come out of the ground and still had bits of dirt and leaves clinging to them. 

Forest Crystal - Blue ShardForest Crystal - Blue Shard
  Some of the projections from the ground ended quite sharply, like points of a needle! 

  After conversing with my dad (who is a great person to ask about these kinds of things), we now think we found a kind of frost flower known as "needle ice". Frost flowers are caused by interactions between warm or cold moisture (from a stream, or wet forest floor, say) and warm or cold air.
  A few days after initially finding the crystals, it finally snowed, and my husband and I returned to the area to see what we could see. We had to dig for our treasure, but when we found the same patches we'd examined before, the 'crystal shards' had grown quite a bit larger, only getting dirty and opaque in the process. They weren't as "magical" anymore. We were able to pull up large chunks and confirmed that it was indeed a sort of ice.

  Small, thin "cords" of ice had banded together to make large columns now... still very interesting to behold! 

  It was exciting to find something unique from incredible Mother Nature! If you ever find yourself in a damp cedar forest, and you keep hearing glass crunching underfoot, lift up the leaves; maybe it's "needle ice"! 
  Keep exploring...



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