It's been an unusually warm late fall, but cold weather is still making its way into Vermont, albeit not as quickly as it did last year. I've been out watching the seasons change and enjoying the patterns made by snow and ice along the river.
The snow that fell last week wasn't heavier than the snow we picked up just before Thanksgiving, but the weather was a bit colder so it stuck around a bit longer. The first morning after the snow was especially beautiful, as the snow was not as slushy as previous storms and everything was coated with a layer of soft white powder. I was struck by the way that snow covers everything in the same way - flood debris from Irene, the pile of debris left by the City of Middlebury after the flood, the place where the oxbow cut is forming. A lot has happened in the last six months, and I still don't know what to make of some of it, but after a couple of inches of snow falls on something, it's easier to set it aside for a while. This snowy morning wasn't a time to worry about what the city would do to the river next spring, what the river would do to the city next spring, or where all the uncertainty in my life and that of my close friends will take us. It was a time to pause, watch the last few snowflakes fall, and let things sit where they are for a while.
After a few days, the warm sun and above-freezing midday temperatures had melted away much of the snow, but nights in the teens and low 20s brought complex ice formations to the river each morning. It appeared that as the coldest temperatures set in and slowed flow into the river, its level dropped, causing odd ice crystals to jut out of the sandy shores and sit shattered in the slow pools.
One of the neatest things I found were these little 'bells' of ice dangling over the river. They formed on little roots that were dangling near the water, and grew as the river splashed on them and they swayed into the cold air. I'd imagine eventually they grew large enough to snap off the roots, perhaps shortly after I found them. Much like many 'sculptures' of ice, these lasted only a short time, and I was lucky to be able to see them.
If you liked these pictures of ice formations, you can see more in this flickr set.