The Forest Crystals
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.
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.
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"!
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