You know you’ve hit the aesthetic wall that is late January when you start shooting photos in your bathroom, it being too frigid outside to allow for much interesting photography. This time last year, I was suffering from snow blindness, a term I use to describe the mid-winter photographic lull you feel when you’ve grown tired of monochromatic monotony: “I find myself growing blind to the beauties of snow, which lies strewn and heaped like last week’s laundry: what seemed so lovely and picturesque in early December has outgrown its welcome by mid-January.”
Even in late January, though, moments of beauty occasionally burn through the inertia of white and gray days, and early this morning, it was this crystal-paisley tapestry that inspired me to bring my camera into the bathroom to begin with:
That’s my bathroom window just before 8 am, before I was ready to wake up for good; by 9 am, Jack Frost’s handiwork had melted like last night’s dreams.
Frost feathers are an ephemeral phenomenon in a season that feels never-ending; that’s why we so often miss them. What normal person brings a camera into the bathroom on a frigid Saturday morning before she’s ready to wake up for good? And yet, why does Jack Frost go to the trouble of painting windowpanes with such delicate brushstrokes if nobody will notice, marvel, and find a way to remember?
Frost-feathers are always ephemeral, and feathers of any sort are more difficult to find these days than during the hot heyday of summer. I cherish the down in the long, quilted coat I wear when walking the dog on cold and windy winter days, and I’m cheered to see juncos, sparrows, and an occasional robin flush at our approach, each of them warmed by a natural down coat.
When you’ve seeded your dreams with visions of frost-feathers, you’re more likely to find this same plumy shape elsewhere. And sure enough, on this morning’s cold and windy dog-walk, there were sparrows chirping and a robin clucking as I shot this image of ornamental grass frizzled into feathers.