Ice Garden

The scene I saw from my window when I opened the blinds on Monday morning…

View from an upstairs window

View from an upstairs window

… was a garden of ice, a magician’s fantasy, the masterpiece of some mad glassmaker.

Each blade of grass has become a blade in truth

Each blade of grass has become a blade in truth

Every leaf of every bush is has been set in a crystal bauble

Every leaf of every bush is has been set in a crystal bauble

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The trees shiver under an overcast sky that promises more snow to come

Memories of flowers, frozen before berries can be born

Memories of flowers, frozen before berries can be born

The pines have dressed their every needle in a coating of ice

The pines have dressed their every needle in a coating of ice

This branch wears a red pendant

A red pendant

Sparkling winter green

Sparkling winter green

A cluster of berries hang enshrined in crystal like a bunch of garnets on some art nouveau bauble

A cluster of berries hang enshrined in crystal like a bunch of garnets on some art nouveau bauble

On a morning like this, I could just about believe this was a Narnian lamppost

On a morning like this, I could just about believe this was a Narnian lamppost

Even the most mundane things are made beautiful.

A rusty nail…

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A gatepost…

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A chain-link fence…

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A suburban street…

Not a soul to be seen

Not a soul to be seen

The ice may be beautiful, but it has done its share of damage.

The wintry silence is broken only by the occasional sharp crack and whoosh of a frozen tree limb snapping and falling to the ground. The branches could not bear the weight of so much frozen water.

The wintry silence is broken only by the occasional sharp crack and whoosh of a frozen tree limb snapping and falling to the ground. The branches could not bear the weight of so much frozen water.

Boughs of glistening glass overhang the street and sidewalks

Boughs of glistening glass overhang the street and sidewalks. I almost expect them to chime in the wind.

It's time to go inside for hot cocoa with marshmallows.

It’s time to go inside for hot cocoa with marshmallows.

“What are those marshmallow things, anyway?” That’s a question many of my European friends have asked me. What can I say? That they are confections of sugary delight? Perhaps that’s a little too ornate of a description. I hadn’t had cocoa with marshmallows in years until this very cup in the picture. I do freely admit that our American cocoa cannot even approach the heights of deliciousness attained by the thick, dark, creamy chocolate I have drunk in Vienna or Milan, but there is something about the humble and rather silly marshmallow that makes American hot cocoa magical. It evokes memories of coming in wet and caked in frost and snow from sledding, snowball fights and snowman building, of childhood Christmases and visits to grandparents’ houses, playing games or reading in front of the fire while the snow came down thick and white outside the windows.

The next morning when I woke, it was snowing in earnest…

Overnight, the ice had been covered over in snow

Overnight, the ice had been covered over in snow

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I’ll close with a wish that you all are able to fit in at least one snowball fight in between bouts of grumbling about power outages and shoveling the driveway. We grownups have to deal with the problems winter poses, but its important not to lose sight of the magic and fun it brought us when we were kids. Enjoy the snow if you can, even when it’s doing its worst! If you have a hard time with that, well, hot cocoa with marshmallows might help. Our high temperature tomorrow is going to be about 18 F (that’s -3 Celsius), so I’ll certainly be making another cup.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay cozy.

– Jennifer

I know what I’m having this afternoon in place of my five o’clock coffee. The problem is, which of these lovely recipes do I try first?

And, for my local readership:

To conclude  here’s a link to a pair of “winter berry” earrings made by a fellow blogger, expat and jewelry maker who lives in France. I was reminded of them when taking the photos of my own ice garden. I love her creations, inspired by the nature that surrounds her beautiful new home:

Enjoy!