I saw the first sign of spring today. It wasn't a robin. We see those all winter long. They'll stay here if they can find food. It wasn't the crocuses. They're still buried under the snow. I didn't hear any frogs singing either. It was the fog and the resulting hoarfrost.
Fog at this time of the year occurs when the air begins to warm and it comes into contact with the cold ground. With all the snow we had last week, temperatures in the thirties were enough to produce a dense fog. So dense that all area schools were closed and numerous car accidents occurred. I had a close call myself, when I drove to work this afternoon. And the fog stayed that way all day.
When I looked out the window this morning, the ice crystals that formed on every cold surface painted a picture of muted fluffiness. Our county was once part of The Great Black Swamp and is the flattest in the state of Ohio. This contributes to the high incidence of fog here especially when winds are calm. When the air is especially humid, it freezes on the cold surfaces, forming the frost. Crystal builds upon crystal and the result is what is called hoarfrost.
Hoarfrost is an amazing thing. It is usually ephemeral, as the slightest wind will destroy it. Knowing this, I rushed outside with my camera, to try to capture some of the delicate and fragile beauty. As I was walking around, I was aware of how quiet and still it was. The only sounds were the crunch of my feet in the snow and the staccato of a nearby woodpecker. I stood and listened to that woodpecker for several minutes and breathed in the crisp air. While I'm not a big fan of winter, I do love the feel of the cold air as I breathe it in and it smells so clean.
The snow has started to melt, and I can see green grass. By the time all of the snow is gone, I have no doubt I will have to grab the camera again to take pictures of the crocus blooming. After all, March 21st is just four weeks away, and I have to think that my garden is as anxious for spring as I am.
Winter has lasted just about long enough.