Hard frost

IMG_2720The temperature dipped into the twenties in the Berkshires the other night, and we woke to a world glazed in white. Though beautiful from the window, up  close you could see the devastation wreaked on anything still growing: shriveled stalks and drooping heads. Each hard frost is like a stroke — a shock to nature’s cellular system — and this one seemed to be the final blow.

The crystalline skies the night before actually served as something of a frost warning. Without a blanket of cloud cover, ground heat dissipates into the heavens leaving surfaces exposed to the IMG_2724cooler air. And frost forms when the temperature at ground level sinks below the freezing point of water.

Here’s a brilliant poem on the subject by the British poet and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom Cecil Day-Lewis (1904 – 1972), perhaps better known these days as the father of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

A Hard Frost

by C. Day-Lewis

A frost came in the night and stole my world

And left this changeling for it – a precocious

Image of spring, too brilliant to be true:

White lilac on the window-pane, each grass-blade

Furred like a catkin, maydrift loading the hedge.

The elms behind the house are elms no longer

But blossomers in crystal, stems of the mist

That hangs yet in the valley below, amorphous

As the blind tissue whence creation formed.


The sun looks out and the fields blaze with diamonds

Mockery spring, to lend this bridal gear

For a few hours to a raw country maid,

Then leave her all disconsolate with old fairings

Of aconite and snowdrop! No, not here

Amid this flounce and filigree of death

Is the real transformation scene in progress,

But deep below where frost

Worrying the stiff clods unclenches their

Grip on the seed and lets

The future breathe.


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4 Responses to Hard frost

  1. Cheryl Sullivan says:

    I always love these poems and musings (and photos) of the changing seasons and other subjects. So much of our daily lives and those of the natural world are so affected by the weather and change of seasons. There is no escaping it. There is such beauty in every season .

    • Liza says:

      Thank you, Cheryl. I agree that we are affected more deeply than we probably know by the changing seasons — especially the one we’re heading into now!

  2. I love your photographs, Liza! This means the end of one thing, the beginning of another. Beautifully captured.

    • Liza says:

      The radicchio in the photograph is the last thing left in the vegetable garden now, besides a gaggle of never-say-die herbs.

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