Snow is Beautiful but Hoar Frost is Magical

The sight of hoar frost makes me smile because it brings a memory to mind, one with imagery that could have been ripped from the pages of a fairy tale.

hoar frost on distant mountaintop
hoar frost on distant mountaintop

Hoar frost happens when fog freezes on the trees and other things that collect condensation during the pre-sunrise hours. It’s not a phenomenon that happens every cold morning, but only when conditions are just right.

As those of you who have followed me here for a while know, I have two horses. It hasn’t happened in a long while, not since we finally did some fencing work summer before last, but I used to often go out in search of my wayward horses.

The ridgetop you see in that photo above is a few miles to reach by dirt road, or a few miles to reach by hiking up the mountain behind our house and then following an old logging road along the ridgetop. In the photo, the dirt road would take us to the right hand side of the hoar-frost ridge and the logging road hike comes in from the left.

There is a large grassy field on the top of that ridge. That is where the horses tend to go when they’ve escaped their confinement. They get there by hiking up the mountain and following the old logging road, and that’s the way I normally go to retrieve them when it happens. There’s a gate on the road entrance and fences connected, and no way for me to get the horses out that way.

One time in winter the horses got out and I went off in search of them. As usual, I did find them on that ridge. But it was a hoar frost morning and the entire scene was made up of tiny light-catching ice sparkles. Every tree was coated, every shrub and blade of grass. There were even sparkles floating in the air.

I felt like I was¬†walking the horses through an enchanted forest. Even the horses seemed to step gently as I led them back toward home. No camera with me on that hike. It’s enough to just carry myself, some water, and the horse’s halter up and down the hills like that, but on that day I wished I had brought it. I’ll never forget that sight.


hoar frost zoomed a little
hoar frost zoomed a little

Here’s another close-up view of how the trees look when coated with hoar frost.

hoar frost
This is a pic from the dirt road that leads around behind the ridge in my other photos. My son took it the other day on his way home, the same day I took the photos above.

First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming

Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.

Thoughts, info, or feedback to share?