Wednesday’s snow made a fine job of delineating architecture along the Quarry Gardens’ main trail. Birds were active. Small animal tracks everywhere. The rock steps ascending the north side of the North Quarry pool were clearly defined. Here are a few more snow scenes:
The quarry pools remain partly frozen, with swathes of snow-covered ice, bare ice, and open water.
The Giant’s Stairs were a study in contrasts.
As were random soapstone boulders with marks left by gang-drilling.
A few days ago, while we were having breakfast, a pileated woodpecker darted among trees in front of the house. Given that these large birds claim many acres of territory, perhaps it was the same one who made these rectangular holes in a tall Virginia pine along the North Quarry trail. These holes, just 4-6 feet off the ground—and active—fresh chips on the snow—were likely made pursuing tunnels of wood-boring insects such as carpenter ants or beetles. Those made for nesting or roosting are rounder, only large enough for the birds to come and go—and much higher, 15 to 70 off the ground. We’ll see if another animal finds a use for these. (The tree is one of those our Giant lichen orbweaver spider used last summer. See July 26 post, in News Archives.)
The quarry pools, some 40-feet deep, have not frozen for many years, but this year they did freeze in early January’s record-breaking chill. Unfortunately, because of the depth of the quarries, the frozen top adds little of interest, especially because, for whatever reason, it is not very smooth. On the other hand, the lake on our adjoining property, which is fed in part by Bern’s Run stream that runs alongside the quarries, did freeze to a depth of four to six inches for the first time in 25 years. Enough to walk on (or even drive over with an ATV). And so we did (the walking part). It was magical. Art everywhere.
The featured photo is of a cedar stump in a shallow spot. Though the image appears to show rough ice stacked around the edges of some uninhabited coastal island, it’s just an old stump, and the entire surface is smooth. Looking straight down through clear ice beside it, we could see the tree’s roots, splayed around it and extending for many yards. But then, anywhere we looked was wondrous.
With temperatures in the low 20s, even a bright sun produced no liquid.
Good boots kept us upright on the glassy surface.
Under the surface glaze, we found layers of—what?—frozen bubbles?—occurring in areas where
we believe are underwater springs. Below the ice in the shallows, we spied small fish swimming.
Trompe l’oeil—twice: This is not a black-and-white photo. Nor is it a rough
place in the ice. Belying all that texture, the surface is mirror smooth.
Here, too, although the leaf appears to be sitting on top of the ice, it is embedded
under a smooth surface in what appear to be carbonated bubbles.
There were odd exceptions to the smoothness. Caught in depressed circles near
the lake’s north end were these Beech leaves, some sticking up into the air.
It was not a quiet walk on the water. The ice made eery, echoing booms as lengthy cracks developed, lacing the surface (which mostly remained smooth). That, numb fingers, and waning light finally drove us—with our treasured photos and memories—back to shore.