Where the Snow-Fern Grows


Some “ice ferns” can be over an inch around and vary in number of leaves. The special conditions that allow “snow-ferns” to form don’t come often to Tennessee.

The pond was beautiful this snowy January day.  Frozen over with ice and covered in hundreds of ice crystals that looked like little ferns. I put down the axe and walking stick to get a closer look.  Careful to check the thickness of the ice, I stepped out on the pond. The little ice ferns were like snowflakes; thin and delicate. The complex structures shattered at touch and even my breath would break off layers. Below the ferns was a layer of crystals that looked like wood chips crisscrossing the pond. I thought of Psalm 9 – how marvelous are thy works.  Then the ice creaked.

Looking up, I realized our dog was coming to see why I was laying flat on a frozen pond. Above me on the hill, a cow stared down, impatiently flapping her ears. Oh, yea, I was supposed to be breaking the ice for the cows.  Stepping off the ice, I went back to work.

As demonstrated by Snoopy in the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon, dogs don’t need ice skates. When each chunk of ice had been cut, I slid it beneath the surface toward the center of the pond. While I worked, our dog would go trotting across following the pieces of ice as they moved below her. Frozen ponds have a unique twang that echos through the ice, caused by the impacts and movement. Dogs love tracking that sound from atop the pond. “Let’s go.” I said, and with dog claws frantically scratching at the ice, we headed for home.

by Benjamin Owen / TNmemoirs.com