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Title: Water Wonders Every Child Should Know - Little Studies of Dew, Frost, Snow, Ice, and Rain
Author: Thompson, Jean M. (Jean May)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: A WINTER SCENE]

  Oh come to the window, dear brother, and see
    What a change has been made in the night;
  The snow is all over the big cedar tree,
    And the ground, too, is covered with white.
                                                    _James Taylor._

                          WATER WONDERS EVERY
                           CHILD SHOULD KNOW

                         LITTLE STUDIES OF DEW,
                       FROST, SNOW, ICE AND RAIN

                            JEAN M. THOMPSON

                          BY WILSON A. BENTLEY

                     [Illustration: Publisher Logo]

                                NEW YORK
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP

                          Copyright, 1907, by
                       Doubleday, Page & Company

    All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
                 languages, including the Scandinavian

                              TO G. W. R.


I am greatly indebted to Mr. Wilson A. Bentley for valuable assistance
in the arrangement of this book, and particularly for permission to
reproduce the microphotographs.
                                                       Jean M. Thompson.


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE
  I. When the Dew Falls                                                5
  II. The Coming of the Hoar Frost                                    37
  III. Etchings by Jack Frost                                         65
  IV. Mysteries and Beauties of the Snow                              97
  V. Ice and Its Formation                                           169
  VI. The Beneficent Rain                                            205


  A Winter Scene                                          _Frontispiece_
                                                             FACING PAGE
  3. Grass blade with dew deposit                                      5
  4. Showing how sharp-pointed grasses collect and retain the
          dewdrops                                                     5
  5. Grass blade holding two drops                                     5
  6. Dewdrop on grass blade                                            5
  7. Spider’s web entire                                               9
  8. Detail section of spider’s web dew-laden                          9
  9. A dew-laden strawberry leaf                                      13
  10. Dewdrop caught on vegetable hairs                               13
  11. The sleeping caterpillar was a good subject                     13
  12. The surface of a leaf dew-covered                               13
  13. Dew caught and held upon the down of plant stem                 14
  14. Dew upon the down of a leaf                                     14
  17. Hoar-frost deposit upon a stick                                 18
  18. Dainty lace-like formation of hoar frost                        18
  19. Winter tabular hoar frost resembling a group of butterflies     18
  20. Like a piece of bleached coral                                  22
  21. Tabular hoar frost                                              22
  22. Tree form tabular hoar frost which grew in zero weather         22
  23. A winter type of hoar frost                                     26
  24. Columnar hoar frost upon a decaying log                         26
  25. Striking arrangement of hoar-frost crystals                     26
  26. Showing hoar-frost elaboration                                  33
  27. Hoar-frost deposit upon grass blades                            33
  28. Moss-like hoar frost deposited upon surface of pond             37
  29. Columnar hoar frost scattered over brook ice                    37
  30. An odd hoar-frost formation                                     41
  31. Detail tabular hoar frost                                       41
  32. Detail tabular hoar-frost crystals                              41
  33. Cup-form hoar frost                                             41
  34_a_. Columnar hoar-frost crystals                                 45
  34_b_. Columnar hoar frost                                          45
  35. Linear-type window-pane frost                                   46
  36. Showing initials crudely scratched upon glass                   46
  37. An exquisite lace pattern in frost                              50
  38. A beautiful example of two distinct types                       54
  39. Fern-like scrolls, delicate background                          54
  40. A perfect fern leaf                                             58
  41. Raised fern-like arrangement                                    58
  42. Showing in detail granular frost                                58
  43. Graceful feathers with curling ends                             62
  44. Strikingly beautiful example                                    62
  45. One of Jack Frost’s masterpieces                                69
  46. A mass of feathers scattered upon glass                         69
  47. Sometimes Jack Frost sketches oak leaves                        73
  48. Detail of frost crystals largely magnified                      73
  49. Twigs and leaves                                                77
  50. Branch-like arrangement of twigs                                77
  51. Moss-like arrangement of frost                                  78
  52. Twin freaks                                                     78
  53. An unusual design                                               82
  54. A powdering of small flowers                                    82
  55. A maple-leaf etching                                            86
  56. Find the frost spider                                           86
  57. Two distinct types of window-pane frost                         90
  58. Curious design suggesting a spider web                          90
  59. One of the choicest designs of window frost                     97
  60. A design of frost work from “the land of the pointed firs”      97
  61. Blizzard type                                                  101
  62. Exquisite jewelled type                                        101
  63. Solid, big-storm type                                          105
  64. A very symmetrical crystal                                     105
  65. High-altitude crystal                                          105
  66. Freak crystal formed by broken sections uniting                105
  68. Air inclusions unusually clear                                 109
  69. Low-altitude type                                              109
  70. Local-storm crystal                                            110
  71. Freak trigonal crystal                                         110
  72. Elaborately etched                                             110
  73. The cuff-button crystals                                       114
  74. Low-cloud crystal                                              114
  75. A beautifully marked high-altitude crystal                     114
  76. Crystal coated with granular snow                              118
  77. Having flower-like petals                                      118
  78. Very intricate design                                          122
  79. Showing a perfect star                                         122
  80. Frigid-altitude crystal                                        126
  81. High- and low-altitude type combined                           126
  82. Having beautifully etched center                               126
  83. A diamond pendant                                              126
  84. Clean-cut prism-like crystal from high altitude                133
  85. Suggesting a Masonic emblem                                    133
  86. The Egyptian crystal                                           133
  87. Unusually symmetrical and clearly defined                      137
  88. Singular detail                                                137
  89. Trigonal crystal                                               137
  90. Young germ crystals                                            141
  91. Granular pellet crystals                                       141
  92. Columnar six-sided type                                        141
  93. Sleet, sharp and stinging                                      142
  94. Old snow, re-crystallised                                      146
  95. Freak crystal                                                  146
  96. Snow rollers                                                   150
  97. Scattered like huge muffs over large tracts of land            150
  98. A freak crystal                                                154
  99. Two broken crystals united                                     154
  100. A society emblem                                              154
  101. A twin crystal                                                154
  102. A feathery type                                               161
  103. Leaf-like terminations                                        161
  104. Delicately etched centre                                      165
  105. High-altitude crystal                                         165
  106. Solid type                                                    169
  107. Star type                                                     169
  108. Very unusual centre formation                                 169
  109. Mosaic like                                                   169
  110. Feathery type                                                 173
  111. Clear prism-like branches                                     173
  112. Solid type                                                    173
  113. Low-altitude crystal                                          173
  114. Having notably elaborate centre                               174
  115. Very elaborate design                                         174
  116. The arrow crystal                                             174
  117. Low-altitude type                                             174
  118. High-altitude crystal                                         178
  119. A daintily etched centre design                               178
  120. Branchy trigonal crystal                                      182
  121. An uncommon type                                              182
  122. One of the most elaborate crystals shown                      186
  123. A rare design because of its open petal-like formation        186
  124. Very frigid altitude crystal having remarkably etched
          centre                                                     186
  125. A snow crystal covered with granular deposit of frost         186
  126. Local-storm type                                              190
  127. Cold high altitude                                            190
  128. Germ or birth of ice crystal                                  197
  129. Second stage in which crimps begin to appear                  197
  130. Third stage of development                                    197
  131. Fourth stage flower-like shape beginning to show              201
  132. Ice flower completed                                          201
  133. Flower-like shape fully formed                                201
  134. Ice flower beginning to show shadings                         201
  135. Ice crystals growing downward into the brook                  205
  136. Group of ice crystals                                         205
  137. Lance-like form seen pushing out from banks of brooks         205
  138. Second stage of lance-like ice crystals                       206
  139. Lance-like form completed                                     206
  140_a_. Freak ice crystals                                         206
  140_b_. Group of ice crystals containing germs                     206
  141_a_. Coral-like branch showing the “feather type” in detail     210
  141_b_. Window-pane ice                                            210
  142. Beautiful type of window-ice growing like delicate seaweed    214
  143. Window-pane ice                                               214
  144. Another type of window-pane ice                               214
  145. An example of columnar ice                                    218
  146. Columnar ice                                                  218
  147. Columnar ice, section shown in detail                         218
  148. Very great thunder-storm drops                                222
  149. Rain from cirro-stratus high clouds                           222
  150. Rain from low nimbus clouds                                   222
  151. Thunder- and hail-storm type                                  226
  152. From a great rain storm which lasted 15 hours                 226
  153. Thunder cloud                                                 230
  154. Nimbus or low stratus clouds                                  230

                           WHEN THE DEW FALLS

[Illustration: 3. Grass blade with dew deposit—three drops held in
suspension on top of blade]

[Illustration: 4. Showing how sharp pointed grasses collect and retain
the dew drops, while blunt or broken blades collect none]

[Illustration: 5. Grass-blade holding two drops—dew drop preparing to

[Illustration: 6. Dew drops on grass blade; showing inverted landscape
held in drop]

                               CHAPTER I
                           WHEN THE DEW FALLS

  “Everything shone with the dew drops that sparkling and trembling lay
  Scattered to left and to right, and the webs of the spiders were hung
  Thickly with pearls and diamonds; light in the wind they swung.”

One of the most interesting and instructive phenomena in the lessons of
nature is the falling of the dew—a seeming miracle which begins with the
setting of the sun, and goes on mysteriously, collecting and
distributing its countless exquisite water jewels, all through the long
stillness of the night, only to be dispelled again by the heat of the
rising sun.

We are more or less familiar, through casual observation, with the
varied beauties of the dew. A walk in the country or park, in the early
midsummer morning, just after the sun has risen, if possible, will
enable you fully to appreciate its charms; especially if the dewfall
during the preceding night has been a copious one. Every bit of
plant-life and vegetation will sparkle and twinkle in the early
sunshine, hung and embellished with millions of glittering jewels. The
very smallest grass blade, you will discover, has not been neglected by
the Dew Fairy. And even the delicate, gossamer-like spider’s web swung
from twig to twig or caught among the grasses, is dew laden, and an
object of beauty well worthy of consideration.

[Illustration: 7. Spider’s web entire: showing manner of collecting dew]

[Illustration: 8. Detail of spider’s web dew-laden. Observe the
pearl-like strands.]

Happy indeed are you, if you have enjoyed a stroll in an old-fashioned
country flower garden in the early morning. No need to dwell upon its
charms if you have enjoyed that pleasure, for you will long remember the
refreshment and peace which came to you with the close companionship of
the great pink, damask roses, their petals still heavy with the night
dews; the tall, sentinel-like lilies, cool and fragrant, their cups
filled with dewy nectar, which great blundering bees were eagerly
plundering; clean-smelling phlox, waist-high, each velvet cluster moist
and bent with its weight of dew. Then the beds of gray-green mignonette;
and best of all, down in an out-of-the-way corner, a tangle of
unobtrusive old-fashioned pinks, where you knelt and buried your face
for a moment to inhale their spicy fragrance, and found them doubly
sweet and satisfying after their drenching dew bath. While the beds of
simples and humbler things, the sage and wormwood, with their silvery
leaves heavy with dew, exhaled a pungent, aromatic odour as you brushed
them in passing. For the dew had refreshed them and enhanced their
dormant spiciness tenfold.

The phenomenon of the dew is simply explained, and well worthy of a
short study as it is really a most important factor in nature’s laws.
Simply explained, the dew is really an actual deposit of water from the
atmosphere upon the surface of the earth, and is formed when the earth
is sufficiently cooled during the night by radiation.

Upon a pleasant day during summer, especially if the sun shines
brightly, much aqueous vapour or mist is held suspended in the air, and
if the temperature at sunset falls below the dew point, that vapour can
no longer be retained in suspension in the air, and falls to the earth.
The dew is the vapour of the air. Sometimes it can readily be seen
falling in a fine mist resembling rain. It is the humidity of the air
deposited upon all surfaces of the earth with which it comes in contact.
When the temperature falls below the dew point, or 32°, the dew then
becomes converted into frost, and we have a deposit of hoar frost,
instead of the dew. It has been remarked that horizontal and flat
surfaces exposed to the dew receive a greater deposit than sheltered or
oblique surfaces.

[Illustration: 9. A dew-laden strawberry leaf with dew jewels set in
each serration about the edges]

[Illustration: 10. Dew drop caught on vegetable hairs of mullein leaf]

[Illustration: 11. The sleeping caterpillar was a good subject and
received a copious collection of dew]

[Illustration: 12. The surface of a leaf dew-covered]

Dew has frequently been quoted as “A shower from heaven,” but this is
not literally correct. True, it appears rather mysteriously from a clear
sky, and upon a still, cloudless night covers thickly every blade of
grass and plant life with seeming raindrops, and that frequently where
rain clouds rarely appear, and the rain seldom falls. In such climates,
where a rainfall is rare, it is certainly a most beneficial and wise
provision, for it gathers upon all herbage and vegetation, in sparkling,
refreshing profusion; while it avoids instinctively all barren rocky
formations and all things which could not be benefited by its grateful
cooling, moisture. Also, in cold, damp climates, where the air is
continually saturated with moisture, and where an additional amount is
not required, the gathering clouds and the dampness of the chilly
atmosphere prevent a radiation of heat from the earth, and the dew never
falls in such climates.

There are three requisites which appear to be essential for the
formation of the dew: First, that the air should be moist; second, that
the surface upon which it falls shall be cold, and third, that the sky
be clear.

Of course the atmosphere always contains a greater amount of moisture
after a rainfall, when the air has been greatly cooled. Evaporation is
then continually going on among all objects lying near the surface of
the earth. Blades of grass and all plants near the ground gradually cool
and assume a lower temperature after sunset; they are preparing for the
fall of the dew.

It has been remarked that certain plants possess greater powers of
radiating heat and of expelling moisture through evaporative process
than others; upon such plants the dew deposit is always more profuse,
while those plants possessing less powers of radiation and evaporation,
collect little dew.

[Illustration: 13. Dew caught and held upon down of plant stem]

[Illustration: 14. Dew upon the down of a leaf]

There are very many plants whose leaves are downy, with a thick growth
of tiny vegetable hairs; the mullein leaf is a good example, its thick
velvety leaves are thickly covered with this growth of vegetable down,
and present a velvety surface; these leaves always collect a fine
display of dew jewels. One has been caught by the camera, perched upon
the down of a mullein leaf, as shown in the photographic illustration.

During still nights in early spring and fall, when there are no
disturbing winds, the water molecules or dewdrops in countless numbers
form one upon another, all night long, and settle upon blades of grass
and all growing plants, and in the morning sunshine dance and sparkle in
strings of scintillating diamonds from every pasture and hedge row.

The sharp-pointed grasses collect the dew very copiously and in a most
interesting manner. Dewdrops formed upon the grass blades, it will be
observed, are arranged in a truly wonderful symmetrical fashion, and one
marvels at the orderly arrangement. Frequently one large dewdrop, clear
as a diamond, is deposited upon the very tip of the little grass blade,
sometimes two and even three large drops are held in suspension thus,
while upon the extreme sharp edge of one or both sides of the blade a
collection of small, bead-like drops cling in orderly, precise fashion,
strung from tip to root of the grass blade. A broken or blunted blade of
grass collects no dew, or very little. When the large dewdrop perched
upon the tip of the grass blade decides to fall, it descends rather
slowly at first, following the extreme edge of the blade in its course,
and thus meets and collects all the other dewdrops which it encounters
strung along the edge of the blade, until forming at last one heavy
drop, it suddenly falls to earth, where it is instantly absorbed, and
goes to give life and strength to the very roots of the plant.

[Illustration: 17. Hoar frost deposit upon a stick. The butterflies have
settled to rest]

[Illustration: 18. Dainty lace-like formation of hoar frost collected
upon a straw]

[Illustration: 19. Winter tabular hoar frost resembling a group of

Cobwebs attract the dew in a rather singular manner. It is yet to be
discovered why the dew forms only upon the horizontal threads of a
spider’s web, while the vertical threads, though smaller, collect no dew
deposit. This curious fact is well shown in the photograph of the entire
spider’s web, also in the section of a web, showing the dew deposit in
detail. Wonderfully beautiful are these dew-laden webs. It will be
observed that each drop is similar in size, and closely resembles
several strings of well-matched pearls, although in the sunshine they
appear as clear, flashing diamonds. Certain leaves collect the dew drops
in a novel manner, notably the strawberry leaf, and similar plants
having serrate edges. The strawberry leaf, besides being plentifully
decorated upon its surface with water beads, holds in each tiny
serration about its edge a large, clear, sparkling dewdrop, which gives
the leaf a wonderful jewelled effect.

We are all familiar with the so-called “sweating” of a glass or pitcher,
or a metal pipe containing cold water; this is another phase of the dew,
and may be observed in the daytime.

A cool night in spring or autumn, after a hot day, we usually receive a
more copious fall of dew, which gradually increases as the night becomes
cooler. Should clouds gather, the precipitation of the dew at once
ceases. Wherever a bush or bit of vegetation overhangs a spot, it has a
similar effect to that of a cloud, and the dew does not collect at all,
or not as copiously, in that spot.

In the tropics, and in certain countries where there are no rain clouds;
where they rarely have rain for many months at a time, the dewfall is so
heavy that it quite supplies the lack of rainfall. If it were not for
this providential visitation of the dew all vegetable life must
certainly perish, scorched and withered by the torrid heat.

[Illustration: 20. Like a piece of bleached coral. Hoar frost discovered
under a building]

[Illustration: 21. Tabular hoar frost]

[Illustration: 22. Tree form tabular hoar frost: grew in zero weather]

In the East, in the region of Palestine, the dew frequently is so heavy
that it closely resembles rain. Upon the great burning deserts alone the
dew never falls; for the moment the dew vapours or molecules encounter
the scorching breath which arises from the face of these barren seas of
sand, they evaporate and are redissolved, dissipated and consumed by the
heat. So it will be seen that the fixed molecules which compose
vegetation alone have the power to attract and arrest the water
molecules of the air with which they come in contact, and thus form, in
combination, the dew.

When the temperature is below 32°, the tiny particles which go to form
the dew become hoar frost. It is often of great value to the farmer or
vegetable grower to be able to know just the temperature of the dew
point, because, if he discovers it in time, he is enabled to save his
garden from a sudden blighting visitation of the frost.

Another interesting fact, and one which is known to few of us, but which
may readily be seen, if we take time to study the dewdrop minutely is;
that each tiny drop of dew is in itself a miniature mirror, for upon its
clear, crystal-like surface it holds and faithfully portrays upon its
rounded form the image of any near-by object. The picture is, of course,
naturally inverted. But you will find it; a bit of blue sky holding a
scrap of fleecy cloud, or a pigmy forest of trees caught and mirrored in
the dewdrop. Often sleeping and dormant insects when caught out in the
open during the night, receive a copious deposit of dew. The caterpillar
shown in the photograph was a good subject, and quite a collection of
dew was deposited upon his furry coat.

[Illustration: 23. A Winter type of hoar frost]

[Illustration: 24. Columnar hoar frost upon a decaying log]

[Illustration: 25. Striking arrangement of hoar-frost crystals upon
broken edge of ice, water showing beneath]

Nature in all her moods, and they are many, is always entertaining and
instructive, and perhaps one of her greatest marvels is that which takes
place in the silence of the brooding night—the falling of the gentle

[Illustration: 26. Showing hoar-frost elaboration about the edge of a

[Illustration: 27. Hoar-frost deposit upon grass blades]

                      THE COMING OF THE HOAR FROST

[Illustration: 28. Moss-like hoar frost deposited upon surface of pond]

[Illustration: 29. Columnar hoar frost scattered over brook ice]

                               CHAPTER II
                      THE COMING OF THE HOAR FROST

  “Rustily creak the crickets;
  Jack Frost came down last night—
  He came on the wings of a star beam,
  Cool and sparkling and bright;
  He sought in the grass for the crickets
  With delicate icy spear,
  So sharp and so fine and so fatal,
  And he stabbed them far and near.
  Pray what have you done to the flowers?
  Where hides the wood aster?
  She vanished as snow wreathes dissolve in the sun
  The moment you touched her.”

When autumn has reached the zenith of perfection, when the milkweeds and
thistles which grow thick in the hedges have cast their gossamer,
fairy-like seeds to the winds, and the goldenrod which flaunted its
yellow banners so brightly through those last long, perfect days of
dying autumn, has at last begun to fade, the first warning which we have
of the approach of the frost is all at once seen in certain mysterious
changes of colour which have taken place in the foliage of the trees.
Then we know that upon that last still night, when the stars snapped and
sparkled so brilliantly, and the air felt unusually keen and crisp, that
the Hoar-frost Spirit must have been abroad, and in passing, touched all
the trees and plants very lightly with his magic wand. Out in the garden
the sturdy sunflowers droop their seed-filled crowns a trifle, while the
hollyhocks seem to stand less primly and firmly, and lean together as
though for support. They have felt the blighting touch of that magic
wand. He touched also the tips of the maple leaves upon the hillside,
and left upon some of them just a little dab of his crimson brushwork;
they form a touch of brilliant colour against the darkly massed pines
and hemlocks in the background. But shortly they will flame forth upon
every hillside, one vast torch, lighted to do honour to the passing of
autumn; and all the work of the Frost Spirit.

[Illustration: 30. An odd hoar-frost formation]

[Illustration: 31. Detailed tabular hoar frost—grew slowly]

[Illustration: 32. Detailed tabular hoar-frost crystals]

[Illustration: 33. Cup form hoar frost]

The little sour fox-grapes which grow in the hedge-rows, are now piquant
in flavour, and have acquired something which they lacked before, and
are pleasant to the taste since the hoar frost’s visit to them. The
bitter-sweet berries which grow close beside them, tangled and twisted
with the gray, fluffed-out clematis plumes, have burst their
orange-coloured sheaths, and gleam more vividly than before. And the
great green chestnut burs are bursting, just a trifle; they need one
more, slightly sharper touch from the hoar frost, and then the plump,
brown, satin-skinned nuts will come tumbling out of their burs to the
ground. The eager squirrels have already begun to collect their winter
supplies. They are early at work, even before the magical display
created by the hoar frost has been touched by the sun. They mean to get
ahead of the children in their nut gathering, if possible.

If you too, would rise with the squirrels, and go forth into the open
fields and woods, you will be amply repaid for the small effort which it
cost you, for the display which the delicate hoar frost makes upon a
clear morning in early autumn, when first touched by the sunrise, is
really fantastic and wonderfully beautiful.

If you happen to be in the country, direct your steps across the pasture
lands, where the short thick grass is powdered heavily with the hoar
frost, and do not fail to pause at the old, gray rail fence, leading
into the cornfield, to study the fine effects, the magic work which the
Frost Spirit has left there during the night. The withered brown shocks
of corn, standing in suggestive, witch-like attitudes, scattered over
the fields, each lance-like rustling blade tipped with a steely,
glittering coat of frost; while between the leaning stacks gleam great
golden pumpkins, as yet unharvested, each golden sphere gleaming through
a bluish-white deposit of hoar frost, or frozen dew.

[Illustration: 34a. Columnar hoar-frost crystals]

[Illustration: 34b. Columnar hoar frost (tabular)]

Unquestionably, James Whitcomb Riley had in mind a similar scene when he
was inspired to pen the homely lines so often quoted:

  “When the frost is on the punkin,
  And the fodder’s in the shock.”

The beauties and peculiarities of the hoar-frost crystals are a
distinctly separate study in themselves, as they do not belong, nor are
they classified with the heavier frosts of late and mid-winter, such as
we find in the extreme cold weather deposited upon our window-panes and

The hoar frost is in reality the dew particles or molecules of water in
the air, which, when the temperature falls below 32°, freezes and
collects, and thus forms a deposit of hoar frost upon nearly all
surfaces which it encounters.

Still another variety of hoar frost is that which forms mysteriously
under some covering; occasionally we find it deposited upon a bit of
wood which has lain under the snow; it forms upon the underside of the
wood, or that part resting upon the ground, and is caused by the
moisture of the earth, which collects, and which the temperature
converts into crystals of hoar frost.

Special and interesting examples of hoar-frost formations are given in
the photographic illustrations, which, being taken with a camera having
a microscopic attachment are, for the most part, largely magnified. The
detail and formation of the hoar-frost crystal is most delicate, and
well worthy of study, and the curious manner in which some of them are
found, also the many different shapes which they assume, clearly shows
that each formation is possessed of certain individuality of structural
form peculiar to its environments, and the surrounding objects to which
it may attach itself.

[Illustration: 35. Linear window-pane frost. A common type]

[Illustration: 36. Showing initials crudely scratched upon glass, which
frost has elaborated]

An especially interesting type of crystal is that which grows in queer
needle-like layers, somewhat suggestive of tiny stalactite growths; this
variety we frequently discover in gravelly or peaty soil, while it
sometimes raises and supports upon its points large sections of earth
and stones.

These needle-like columnar formations, which are excellently portrayed
in the illustrations, are often found from two to six inches in height,
and are formed from the moisture which rises from the warm soil and
freezes. These columnar crystals do not form in this manner in the
extremely cold weather, or after the ground has become solidly frozen to
a certain depth; therefore they may be classed among the hoar-frost
formations of early autumn.

As shown in detail in the photographs, the formation of each section of
this type of hoar-frost crystal appears as a prism-like columnar growth,
the base of the prism being hexagonal in shape, and closely resembling
an unset jewel.

Through the still, cool nights in autumn the Hoar-frost Fairy works
steadily, covering vegetation with glittering frost-work, touching all
unsightly places, decaying woods, old gray fence-rails lightly in
passing, and upon the following morning, if you are fortunately stirring
before the sun ruins the best work of the hoar frost, you will discover
many wonderful works of art. Sometimes it will be a miniature,
scintillating forest of needle-like crystals attaching itself to some
old rail. Again a perfectly marvellous collection which you may find
deposited upon a board; tiny tabular ice crystals of hoar frost closely
resembling a flight of white butterflies or moths powdered over its flat
surface. We were fortunately able to secure one of this type; and with
the aid of a small pocket microscope, you may be able to discover this
pleasing variety, as shown in our photograph. The same variety of hoar
frost was again encountered, where the delicate crystals had formed and
grouped themselves upon a stick or straw; this is wonderfully suggestive
of a group of butterflies resting upon a flower-stalk, as we frequently
observe them in mid-summer, where flights of the yellow wayside
butterflies assemble upon a mullein-stalk in precisely the same fashion.

[Illustration: 37. An exquisite lace pattern in frost]

The showy illustration resembling in formation a branch of bleached
coral, is another interesting example of the hoar frost’s eccentric
development, and was found clinging to a decaying beam, under an old

The beautiful feathery spray, somewhat resembling a miniature fir tree,
was taken from the branch of a tree, about which it had formed, and is
made up of countless, lace-like, filmy ice prisms, of infinite delicacy.

Much is lost in the scintillating iridescence of these frail hoar-frost
crystals when seen merely in the photographs, for they frequently show
rare colour effects when seen in the open.

That the hoar frost sometimes takes strange freaks is shown in the
exquisitely beautiful deposits occasionally found upon the edges of a
piece of broken ice. Sometimes you will discover it upon the thin, new
ice which forms upon small streams in the early autumn, and in gullies
beside the road. This ice is short-lived, and readily breaks at the
slightest touch, with the crackling sound of broken glass. A section of
this thin ice is shown, about the ragged edge of which the hoar frost
has arranged itself in fantastic fashion. The dark waters of the brook
may be seen through the opening.

[Illustration: 38. A beautiful example of two distinct types.]

[Illustration: 39. Fern-like scrolls, delicate background.]

Hoar frost which gathers upon the grass blades, unlike the deposit of
the dew, does not form noticeably upon the tips of the blades; on the
contrary, the hoar frost gathers in an apparently greater and heavier
degree the nearer to the earth it approaches. Flat-leaved, low-growing
plants are usually well covered with hoar-frost crystals, while about
the edges of certain leaves a heavy decoration of film-like crystals is
sometimes seen.

Frequently upon a pond of frozen water we come across a queer moss-like
fungus deposit scattered at intervals over the surface of the ice. This
is still another type of hoar-frost formation. Still another is the
columnar frost crystal, which is formed of clusters of needles, and
these loose, needle-like formations we frequently find scattered over
the surface of thin brook ice.

During your rambles in the autumn, after the arrival of the hoar frost,
it would prove a pastime as well as an instructive nature study, to
search out and locate the many different varieties of hoar frost. Be
sure to take a small pocket microscope or reading lens with you. Search
diligently in unexpected places, beneath blocks of wood, about decaying
logs and old tree stumps, for in all sorts of out of the way places you
will encounter them. Under the edge of a stone, imbedded even in the
snow, and scattered over the surface of frozen pond and brook. The Frost
Spirit seeks all sorts of strange nooks and crannies in which to deposit
its fascinating mushroom growths.

Nature has in store for us many strange, agreeable surprises. Among them
there is much to be discovered and learned about these delicate
fantastic creations deposited by the Hoar-frost Spirit.

[Illustration: 40. A perfect fern leaf]

[Illustration: 41. Raised fern-like arrangement]

[Illustration: 42. Showing in detail granular frost drawing away from
true frost crystals]

                         ETCHINGS BY JACK FROST

[Illustration: 43. Graceful feathers with curling ends]

[Illustration: 44. Strikingly beautiful example. Evergreen twigs
shooting out into clear glass]

                              CHAPTER III
                         ETCHINGS BY JACK FROST

  “When icicles hang by the wall,
  And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
  And Tom bears logs into the hall,
  And milk comes frozen home in pail.”

In zero weather, in mid-winter, when the earth is frozen to a great
depth below the surface, when in driving over the unpaved country roads
they give forth a hard metallic ring; when the trees are all stripped of
their coverings, with the exception of a few forlorn brown leaves, which
cling tenaciously to the skeleton branches, which crack and sway in the
chilly blasts; then indeed we may be fully assured that nature has
utterly succumbed to the advances of the Frost King, and that “Jack
Frost” himself has arrived in earnest.

How he tweaks and nips exposed ears and noses, and how they tingle and
ache because of his stinging caress. Jack Frost, we read, is “the very
personification of frost and cold.” All of us are more or less familiar
with the mischievous pranks of Jack Frost, and they are quite separate
and apart from those of the gentle white hoar frost, which is frequently
seen early in autumn, upon the first still, cool mornings.

“Jack Frost,” as the great Frost Spirit is familiarly known the world
over, is a most important, if rather mythical personage, and very few of
us are really familiar with the works which he creates in his more
serious moods, and the really wonderful methods which he displays. For,
with all his mischief-making, he finds abundant opportunity to work out
and display much really fine artistic ability in his choice etchings and
decorative schemes.

[Illustration: 45. One of Jack Frost’s masterpieces]

[Illustration: 46. A mass of feathers scattered upon glass]

The night time seems to be most favourable for the finest efforts of
Jack Frost; usually in mid-winter or early spring. He prefers to select
a still, cold night, zero weather, for his best out-of-door display, but
it is usually in the coldest winter weather that he applies his very
choicest designs upon the glass of our windows, and just how charming
and interesting they are, you may judge by the photographed designs
herein shown.

Upon a still moonlit night, when Jack Frost is astir, if you chance to
be out of doors, especially in the open country, you will be made aware
of his presence in many ways besides the tingling of your ears. Suddenly
a sharp mysterious report will occur in the forest, and a great tree
trunk is cleft mysteriously in twain. Again an ominous cracking, as loud
as a rifle report comes from the still ice-covered pond. It is merely
Jack Frost indulging in a bit of rifle-practice.

That barren field, brown and unattractive by daylight, how it glistens
and scintillates as the moonlight floods it. All last summer’s withered
seed pods and grasses; the fluffed-out goldenrod, and many others are
rejuvenated and hung with sparkling, pendent ropes of jewels, all the
creation and work of the Frost Spirit, who has simply paused to caress
them with his icy breath, in passing, and lo, they are beautiful. Later,
when the morning sun touches them, they all, like Cinderella, are shorn
of their finery, and become as before, just mere commonplace, brown and
withered seed pods again. But with infinite patience, as soon as it is
twilight the following night, the Frost Spirit steals forth again and
restores once more his magic, fantastic pictures by the rays of the
wintry moonlight.

[Illustration: 47. Sometimes Jack Frost sketches oak leaves]

[Illustration: 48. Detail of frost crystals largely magnified]

The heavy frosts are a recognised and most important factor in creating
remarkable changes in rocky formations of the earth’s surface. Large
masses of rock are constantly being split and reconstructed by its
mighty blasting powers, and great sections of solid material are
converted in the same manner into soil by the secret action of the
frost, which works continually with the other elements of heat and water
to effect these changes. These powerful agents working year after year
cause vast and important changes to occur in the formation of mountains
and valleys. So great is the power of frost, that it has frequently been
utilised in blasting; when water being poured into the crevice of a
great rock, and allowed to freeze, the rock was readily split, as

All vegetation succumbs readily to the withering blight of the frost
with the exception of the evergreen varieties. The cause for this is,
that the juices of plants naturally expand when touched by the frost,
and at last burst, which destroys the vesicles or life of the plant,
which soon blackens and dies. Of all the pranks in which Jack Frost
indulges, his wholesale destruction of the beautiful flowers and plants
is the greatest to be deplored. But with all the marvellous works of the
mighty Frost Spirit, nothing is quite so fascinating and interesting as
the curious phenomena or frost formations which he creates and deposits
upon the window-panes in mid-winter. Jack Frost is a finished artist, I
assure you, and his etchings are dainty and attractive beyond words.

If you have entered an unlighted room, and seen the moonlight filtering
palely through a frost-etched window; then you know its charm. How it
glittered and sparkled, the delicate frostwork. You were attracted no
doubt and marvelled at the dainty tracings, but few of us have really
had an opportunity to study the detail of these frost designs minutely,
or have considered that there were more than three or four designs at

[Illustration: 49. Twigs and leaves]

[Illustration: 50. Branch-like arrangement of twigs and delicate
fern-like leaves]

It is only quite recently, in fact, that the beautiful etchings of Jack
Frost have been classified and photographed in all their perfection.
Happily this has now been accomplished, by the aid of a compound
photographic camera, and it opens up a new and fascinating field to the
camera expert as well as to the student of frost crystals. Marvellous
indeed is the variety and detail displayed in these attractive
window-pane etchings furnished by the Frost Spirit, and if one is housed
some day, in mid-winter, zero weather, one may watch the entire growth
and development of these exquisite frost etchings from start to finish.

To do this, place a lamp or candle before a frost-covered window, in a
cold room, or unheated by furnace, of course not near enough to the
glass to crack it, but just close enough to melt the heavy frost curtain
which may have formed previously upon the glass. After this has been
allowed to dissolve gradually, you will observe a thin water film or
formation which has been left upon the outer edge of the glass, the
centre of which will be clear. Do not disturb this film, for it is in
part from this that the frost crystallisations form and develop.

As soon as you move the lamp away from the glass, the pictures instantly
begin to grow and develop. Delicate, feathery etchings of ice crystals
first appearing around the outer edge of the water film, and according
to the temperature of the room, form rapidly or slowly. Exquisite
tracings, and fern-like leaves shoot out as by magic toward the centre
of the glass, but as soon as they reach a dry place upon the glass, they
instantly cease. If you observe very closely, you will discover that
meanwhile, in the little open spaces, between the bolder fern-like
designs, more delicate feathery forms are gradually appearing,
formations which sometimes resemble fine coral branches. As soon as the
water-film ice crystallisations are completed they are closely followed
by the true frost crystals, which form upon the various dry places upon
the glass, delicate lines and stars and also in a thin, dew-like
deposit, which rapidly freezes, and assumes a granular, snow-like form.
This granular frost develops very rapidly, and soon covers all the
unoccupied, clear, dry places; but one curious fact worthy of
observation: it does not intrude upon, or approach near to the separate
and individual designs or masterpieces, of the frost already formed upon
the glass, but rather draws away from their immediate vicinity. This
strange habit of the granular frost is well shown in the photographed
illustration, where it will be observed that the granular frost acts
merely as a background or sky effect for the real frost pictures, as in
a painting.

[Illustration: 51. Moss-like arrangement of frost]

[Illustration: 52. Twin freaks]

Classified, there are about ten distinct types of the window-pane frost.
Representatives of each and all types never appear at any given time
upon one window; and strangely enough the designs are never precisely
alike on any two panes of glass. Reduplications of any previous design
are extremely rare, and would only occur when a multitude of identical
conditions occur.

This is rather singular, when we consider the different factors which go
to form the window-pane frost. Certain panes of glass vary in thickness
and in surface topography, also in the arrangement of minute, invisible
scratches, and the accumulation of dust particles which collect from day
to day, all of which affect the arrangement and collection of the frost
crystals. It has been observed that double windows and furnace-heated
apartments are not favourable to frost formations; but in rooms which
are allowed to cool off at night, and in rural dwelling houses which are
not heated by steam or furnace the Frost Spirit loves to work, and
decorates their windows with his choicest etchings.

[Illustration: 53. An unusual design]

[Illustration: 54. A powdering of small flowers]

The beautiful frost studies illustrating this chapter were photographed
in northern Vermont, where the winters are long and the cold very
intense; affording the very best opportunities possible for the
development and study of the frost etchings. These studies are, of
course, somewhat magnified, yet you will have no difficulty in
recognising many familiar frost designs.

No. 35 is a linear type, and of rather common occurrence, easily

In No. 36 the photographer scratched his initials crudely upon the
window-pane; instantly Jack Frost began to elaborate the crude work,
with much better effect.

No. 37 is easily suggestive of a strip of very costly hand-made lace.

No. 38 is a very beautiful arrangement showing two distinct types of
window-pane frost. Observe how each type never intrudes upon another.
The white fern-like type is raised from the glass, and was formed in a
very cold room where it slowly developed and grew for days.

No. 39 is another striking arrangement of the two types; observe the
very delicate fleecy patterns of the frost which forms a background for
the fern-like scrolls.

No. 40 shows a perfectly developed fern; while in No. 41 we have a
strikingly beautiful example of a group of ferns; this type is heavily
laid upon the glass, and develops in zero weather.

No. 42 shows very clearly, in detail, the granular formation of the
frost which has drawn away from the true frost crystals forming in
detached places, in order to give them room to complete their elaborate

No. 43 shows an extremely graceful feather effect, with beautifully
curved scroll like tips.

No. 44 is a very striking arrangement of window frost, showing
exquisitely arranged branches, resembling evergreens, shooting out into
the clear spaces upon the glass.

[Illustration: 55. A maple leaf etching]

[Illustration: 56. Find the frost spider]

No. 45. One of the most beautiful and striking masterpieces of Jack

No. 46. Singularly suggestive of a mass of white feathers thrown loosely
upon the glass.

No. 47. Another masterpiece from the brush of the Frost Spirit, a
perfect oak-leaf design.

No. 48. This is a largely magnified specimen of window-pane frost,
showing examples of frost crystals greatly magnified and in detail.

No. 49. Another arrangement of leaves, showing also branch-like twigs.

No. 50. A very delicate pattern. Note the perfectly formed leaf design
with its delicate background of feathery tendrils.

No. 51. A remarkably fine feathery design.

No. 52. Two very freakish specimens of frost etchings. Suggesting
somewhat the artificial “flies” used by fishermen.

No. 53. Like a delicate bit of seaweed.

No. 54. Like a delicate powdering of small flowers, scattered over the

No. 55. Perfectly formed leaf designs.

No. 56. A design worthy of study. Find the spider.

No. 57. Two types. Suggesting gray moss clinging to rocks.

No. 58. A very rare design. An almost perfect spider’s web, formed of
thick, granular frost, with beautiful moss-like ornamentation in lighter

No. 59. One of the choicest and most delicate designs photographed which
might have formed in the ocean instead of upon a window-pane. No. 60:
this beautiful etching was made in northern Vermont, and is very like a
white forest of fir trees.

[Illustration: 57. Two distinct types of window pane frost]

[Illustration: 58. Curious design suggesting spider web, with moss-like


[Illustration: 59. One of the choicest designs of window frost. A
perfect specimen of a certain type of delicate seaweed]

[Illustration: 60. A design of frost work from “the land of the pointed

                               CHAPTER IV

  “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?
  Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?”
                                                        —Job 38:22.

Most of us have given little time or very serious thought to the study
of the snow, and the marvellous detail which goes to fashion the
individual snow crystal. In fact, if we live in a crowded city, we are
inclined to look upon a heavy snowfall as something of a nuisance, to be
shovelled and carted away as expeditiously as may be by the army of men
employed by the city for that purpose. There it lies, soiled and
unlovely, impeding pedestrianism and traffic, and thoroughly undesirable
until it is cleared away.

But once outside in the open country we are inclined to gaze forth upon
the pure expanse of snow-covered hill and plain, resplendent and
dazzling as it stretches afar under the pale winter sunshine, with a
more kindly, tolerant mood; for there we may view the snow in all its
unsullied charm; and it will surely bring fine sleighing, we concede,
and the children are hilarious and happy over prospective snow sports.

But I wish to give you a brief glimpse into a realm of snow which is
filled with charm and mystery, and when you have looked into that realm
and studied for yourself the marvellous phenomena and detail of
snow-crystal formation, you will doubtless ever after, when gazing forth
upon a snow-covered expanse, or in watching the fluttering, swirling
flakes as they descend, exclaim: Oh, the wonder and mystery of it all!
How can it be possible for such exquisitely beautiful jewelled crystals
to fashion themselves in the vast spaces of the heavens, among the

[Illustration: 61. Blizzard type]

[Illustration: 62. Exquisite jewelled type]

Snow is, in itself, the water in solution, crystallised into irregular
and regular, more or less geometrical forms and designs, of which there
are two distinct types; the crystalline and the granular forms. The
granular formations embody a special type, and the crystalline
formations are usually transparent or ice-like, and vary in size
greatly, some being about three-quarters of an inch in greater diameter.
They fall either singly or bunched together, according to whether the
temperature and humidity is high or low.

The structural formation of snow crystals is generally found to be of
hexagonal shape, usually six-cornered or pointed, although rare types
have been discovered and photographed where such was not the case, as
the trigonal crystals shown. Snow crystals have been classified, as to
structural formation, into two types; the tubular and columnar. The
columnar types are formed of long, slender, needle-like crystals or
columns, usually tapering at one end, while the tubular crystals are
developed upon an extremely thin tubular plane. Frequently we find that
two types have united, thus forming the “compound” crystal, which is
rare, and frequently a very beautiful, showy snow jewel.

The tubular crystals are of more common occurrence and exhibit greater
beauty and diversity of outline than the plain columnar types.

The internal formation and design of the snow crystal is of great
importance and interest, and the delicately etched markings which occur
upon their surfaces, and are so well brought out in the
photo-micrographic illustrations, are due to certain minute air
inclusions or small air tubes. When the light falls upon the crystal,
these air tubes appear as dark tracings or lines and shadings and go to
form and carry out the design of each individual crystal.

[Illustration: 63. Solid, big storm type]

[Illustration: 64. A very symmetrical crystal]

[Illustration: 65. High altitude crystal]

[Illustration: 66. Freak crystal formed by broken sections uniting]

During great snowstorms the winds within such storms blowing spirally
inward toward the storm centre near the earth, and at the same time
upward and outward, above, exert the vast powers of bringing together
the material, the water vapours, which in conjunction with the icy
breath of the raging blizzard, perfects the formation of the snow

Far above the clouds, in the vast silences of space, in thinnest air,
supported solely by up-rushing winds, the little snow crystals form and
multiply, embellished and enlarged by their continual warring contact
with the elements, until at last they descend earthward.

Many of these beautiful crystals are doubtless great travellers, for
they are frequently, when first generated in space, exceedingly light in
formation, so much so that not until they have been buffeted about
repeatedly by the Storm King, do they gain sufficiently in structure and
in weight to descend. They are gradually built up and become heavier by
the varying conditions of air pressure, degrees of humidity, aided also
by electric currents.

Often the delicate crystals are handled so very roughly while passing
from cloud to cloud strata, and violent choppy winds, that there are
frequent collisions and many of the crystals reach us in a broken,
imperfect state. Perfect crystals are by no means common, and it
requires infinite patience and skill to capture and photograph them in
perfection. During a great blizzard or snow-storm, lasting for days,
which one might reasonably hope would be quite prolific of many perfect
specimens, perhaps only one or two really perfect or noteworthy crystals
may be obtained.

It is only within the past few years that scientists have been enabled
to secure crystallographs with any degree of success, so that all early
observers of snow-crystal formation were compelled to rely upon the
magnifying glass for all information regarding their delicate formation,
and crude drawings were made from such observation and served to
illustrate articles upon the subject, as shown in the early writings of
Tyndall and others.

[Illustration: 68. Air inclusions unusually clear]

[Illustration: 69. Low altitude type]

It is to Mr. Wilson A. Bentley who is recognised as the pioneer in
crystal photography, that I am indebted for the wonderfully beautiful
illustrations shown, and which have been selected with much care, in
order to give as clearly as possible some idea of the many distinct
types and the formation of crystals produced during given types of
storms or blizzards. Mr. Bentley has during his many years of valuable
work for the Government along these lines, secured thirteen hundred
distinct snow crystals. Strangely enough, in all that time, he has never
run across duplicates. Nature, it seems, is ever versatile and the
rarity of her patterns is practically inexhaustible.

Unlike the mineral crystals, or those found in the mineral kingdom,
which form beneath the surface of the earth, and are dependent largely
upon their surroundings and environments for their crystalline
formation, the snow crystal is most ethereal; born in the vast spaces of
the heavens, fashioned by the changing clouds and vapours, its lullaby
the hoarse crooning of the mighty blizzard, the little snowflake is
tossed to and fro, now borne to earth for a brief time, only to be
caught upward and tempest-tossed into space again. Perhaps this process
occurs many times, for the snowflake is a mere plaything of the storm,
until at last the capricious winds permit the snowflake to descend.
Timidly and gently it is at last allowed to fall, seeking a final
resting place upon the broad bosom of Mother Earth.

It is thus that the snow crystal grows and matures, owing its
crystalline formation entirely to the constant tossing and warring with
the mighty forces of the storm, and the buffeting which it encounters
upon its long journey earthwards.

[Illustration: 70. Local storm crystal]

[Illustration: 71. Freak trigonal crystal]

[Illustration: 72. Elaborately etched]

  “When e’er a snowflake leaves the sky
  It turns and turns, to say good-bye.
  Good-bye, dear clouds, so cool and gray,
  Then turns and hastens on its way.

  “But when a snowflake finds a tree
  Good-day, it says, good-day to thee.
  Thou art so bare and lonely, dear,
  I’ll rest and find a playmate here.

  “But when a snowflake brave and meek
  Lights on a little maiden’s cheek,
  It starts—how warm and mild the day,
  ’Tis summer; and it melts away.”

It is of course utterly impossible to bring before you in the
photo-micrographs of the snow crystals all their many charms, their
exquisite hues and rainbow shadings, as each crystal radiates with
prismatic hues which are due greatly to air inclusions and resembles
closely at times, clusters of magnificent jewels. We get this effect in
mass, if we gaze forth upon a wide expanse of snow illuminated by pale
moonlight, or flooded by strong sunshine. The scintillation is almost
too dazzling at times for the eyes, and we are duly impressed by the
magnitude of snow-crystal formation. Numberless they are, and like the
sands of the seashore. We find that in making a collection of snow
crystals by photo-micrograph, during a period covering twenty years of
study, in which thirteen hundred perfect specimens were found, that the
entire number discovered, when massed, would form only about one cubic
inch of snow.

How many millions of these exquisitely constructed jewels do we
heedlessly crush and shatter unconsciously during a brief walk in the
snow and how crude and imperfect seem the productions of human minds and
hands when compared to those formed by the blind forces of nature.

The exquisite and varied types of snow crystals herein shown, were
photographed in northern Vermont; a locality where the snow-storms are
frequently long and severe and where the country by-roads are blocked
and impassable for days, while huge drifts pile high above the fences,
and often cover the windows.

[Illustration: 73. The cuff button crystals. From a great storm]

[Illustration: 74. Low cloud crystal]

[Illustration: 75. A beautifully marked high altitude crystal]

Whittier brings before us the whole picture so charmingly in his
beautiful “Snow-Bound”:

  “Zigzag, wavering to and fro,
  Crossed and re-crossed the winged snow;
  And ere the early bed-time came
  The white drift piled the window pane.”

In these severe winter snow-storms which our New England poets
illustrate so aptly, we become familiar with the snow in all its
unsullied purity, and if we are New England born, we never forget the
white, frozen charms of those rigid winters, no matter where we stray,
or how torrid the sunshine of our abiding place in later years.

Many there are among us who are familiar with and love that winter idyl,
the wintry landscape—a blended symphony of colouring; warm russet
browns, gray, and rich velvety greens. Against the dense greens of the
Hemlock and Spruce, the sturdy mottled Sycamore branches, with their
little pendent russet balls clinging tenaciously to their topmost twigs,
stand forth in bold relief, while graceful white birches, slender and
ghost-like, mingle and blend with the sombre gray trunks of Chestnut and
Birch, which toss and sway their denuded branches high in the frosty

A cold gray sky—then stealing down appear the first silent fluttering
snowflakes, floating gently earthward. A brooding silence settles over
all, unbroken save perhaps by a straggling flight of crows winging their
way heavily to safe shelter among the distant forest of dark pines.
Timidly at first descend the first advance heralds of the great storm,
the tiny snowflakes; then suddenly ever faster and faster they assemble,
until the dreary, leaden skies and the landscape picture is confused and
merged together in a gray curtain; shut out by the wildly eddying,
swirling snow.

[Illustration: 76. Crystal coated with granular snow]

[Illustration: 77. Having flower-like petals]

  “Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
  Arrives the snow, and driving o’er the fields
  Seems nowhere to alight, the whitened air
  Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heavens
  And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end.”

Every living thing instinctively seeks safe sanctuary against the
advancing fury of the storm; and desolation broods o’er all the land.
The hoarse winds rise and rage and croon their wailing symphonies about
the picturesque old gray-gabled farmhouses, and the inmates settle
themselves contentedly within doors where all is made safe and snug. And
thus the mighty blizzard rages for days. But at last the grateful
sunshine deigns to burst forth once again, and like magic the scene of
desolation has changed:

  “Come, see the North Wind’s masonry
  Out of an unseen quarry evermore
  Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
  Curves the white bastions with projected roof
  Round every windward stake, or tree or door.

  “Leaves when the sun appears, astonished Art
  To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
  Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work,
  The frolic Architecture of the snow.”

For the trees which tossed their naked gnarled branches in the pitiless
wind before the storm have been rejuvenated and clothed anew in soft
white velvet draperies, and the old gray fence rails gleam and
scintillate, cushioned with snow. It would almost seem as though nature
had endeavoured to carry out some special decorative scheme when she
draped the evergreens, for see how beautiful are the Southern Pines with
their brush-like tufts of needles, each one resembling a snowy pompon of
feathers. The graceful, drooping Hackmatack tree looks as though the
children had decorated it with strings of popcorn, the tiny cones at
intervals each touched with a wisp of white snow carrying out the
effect. While the Balsams wave their serrated branches, each tiny needle
outlined in white, and the stately Hemlocks bend low their glossy green
boughs, flattened and draped heavily with snow. In the hedges the thick
underbrush appears for all the world like a field of ripening cotton,
each group of twigs supporting a whorl of cotton-like snow. No true New
Englander repines or deplores the desolation of such a scene; to him it
is not a gloomy spectacle, but rather festive.

[Illustration: 78. Very intricate design]

[Illustration: 79. Showing a perfect star. Low altitude type]

Should you wander alone far afield, perhaps across some hilly pasture
where above the soft snow hummocks last year’s drying seed-pods and
grasses gleam frost-touched and sparkling in the sunshine, into the edge
of the “spruce bush,” if you are a lover of nature in all her moods,
aside from the glittering beauties which meet the eye upon every hand,
you will be impressed by a wonderful calmness, a brooding silence, which
came with the advent of the snow. This silence is so impressive that
even the velvety pad of some little furry creature in the underbrush is
startling, and the tapping of the brave little woodpecker up aloft
sounds stridently keen and obtrusive. It is as though the storm in
passing had left as a benediction, this great peace which broods over

In tropical countries snow is never seen, for it does not reach the
earth, excepting that which falls upon lofty mountain tops. On the
summits of very high mountains the snow occurs intermittently whether in
frigid or tropical zones. Snow is a wonderfully important factor in the
laws which govern irrigation, for as it melts upon the tops of mountains
it adds greatly to the watershed or drainage, flowing into all streams
and carrying fertility to all regions.

[Illustration: 80. Frigid altitude crystal]

[Illustration: 81. High and low altitude combined]

[Illustration: 82. Having beautifully etched centre]

[Illustration: 83. A diamond pendant]

Although certain types of snow crystals may be detected with the naked
eye, most of them are so tiny that their structural form cannot be
determined without the aid of a microscope. If you chance to be out of
doors during a snowfall, and happen to wear a dark coat of wool
material, observe closely the flakes which chance to alight upon your
sleeve and perhaps you may be able to recognise a true crystal.

When, as we sometimes remark, “Mother Goose is shaking out her feather
bed,” and the white flakes come drifting down in large loose feathery
flakes, then we may more readily discover a crystal without the aid of a
glass. It is then that we find the lace-like, open, branchy and
star-like shapes. These usually form during a local storm, or from a
storm preceded by a warm wave. But the hard pellet-like crystals which
sting our window-panes in falling, are from a very high altitude, and
have been great travellers.

The study of the snow and its many mysterious phases is full of surprise
and charm; and its various demonstrations fascinating and almost
unexplainable. Among the many strange manifestations encountered in the
kingdom of snow, perhaps there is nothing more mysterious than the
so-called “snow rollers.” They are rather a recent discovery among snow
students, and not frequently encountered. Two good examples of these
curious rollers are given in photograph illustrations. The photographer
came upon them quite unexpectedly and thought at first that the children
had been amusing themselves by rolling huge snowballs. But upon
investigation he discovered that these mysterious bundles of snow were
quite hollow, like a large muff, and scattered at intervals over a large
snow-covered field. These mysterious snow rollers form only after a
light fluffy snowfall, followed by a rise in the temperature, from a
degree or so above zero up to 36° or 38° above, accompanied by a
peculiar stray gusty wind.

[Illustration: 84. Clean cut prism-like crystal from high altitude]

[Illustration: 85. Suggesting a Masonic emblem. Trigonal crystal]

[Illustration: 86. The Egyptian crystal, because of its characteristic

The rollers form most frequently in the foothill regions, wherein these
gusty winds pour over and around the hilltops, and down across the
valleys. After the temperature has reached 36° to 38° above and the snow
upon the surface of the ground has been slightly dampened and rendered
sticky, the capricious wind gusts scoop up here and there small
particles of the moist snow, and overturn them upon that in front,
forming a ridge or hollow arch, which is the commencement of the snow
roller. Then the wind gets back of it, and proceeds to roll it forward,
until, as it gradually rolls along it accumulates more snow, and
increases in size, until it becomes too heavy a plaything for the sport
of the winds, and then it stops.

These snow rollers grow in size both in diameter and in length, as they
roll along, and attain various sizes from a few inches in diameter up to
two feet in diameter. Some of the rolls are overturned by the boisterous
winds in such a manner as to form a hollow snow arch, and hence some of
the rolls are hollow even when matured. Hundreds of these rather
mysterious snow formations occur to the acre of land, and they form both
on a dead level and upon inclines.

That snow crystal study is extremely fascinating is well shown, for Mr.
Bentley declares that although he works out of doors for hours at a
time, when often his hands are well-nigh frost-bitten by the intense
cold, in below zero weather, yet he is himself almost unconscious of
discomfort or real suffering from the cold, so keenly interested and
intent is he at the time, in securing some new and wonderful type of
crystal to add to his already large collection of snow jewels.

[Illustration: 87. Unusually symmetrical and clearly defined]

[Illustration: 88. Singular detail; dotted centre design]

[Illustration: 89. Trigonal crystal, very cold storm type]

To make a collection of the snow crystals it is necessary, first of all,
to make a receiving board. This is just a flat board covered with black
velvet or wool material. The operator then places the board in a
favourable position for catching the flakes as they descend, and then
closely watches the receiving board as flake after flake alights upon
the black surface. His eye will become sufficiently trained by
experience at last to detect a fairly perfect specimen. If such a
crystal alights—and sometimes it is weary waiting, for in a storm
lasting an entire day, frequently but two or three perfect crystals
deign to alight upon the receiving board—but when the perfect crystal
arrives, then with infinite skill, and just the right touch, which must
be acquired by practice, the little crystal is gently lifted upon a
tiny, sharp-pointed stick, transferred to the slide and photographed as
quickly as possible, before it has had an opportunity to dissolve, and
become again a mere drop of uninteresting moisture. The camera used is
photo-micrographic, or a camera with a microscopic attachment.

Regarding the formation of the snow into crystalline forms, we are told
that the molecules and atoms of all substances when allowed freedom of
movement, form themselves into many definite shapes and designs called
crystals. Minerals, gold, silver, iron, sulphur, when melted and
permitted to cool, gradually show this crystallising power. And by
dissolving saltpetre in water and allowing the solution to slowly
evaporate, large crystals will form, more or less symmetrical, as the
salt is converted into vapour. Alum readily crystallises in the same
way. The diamond is crystallised carbon, and all precious stones are
examples of mineral crystals. It would be quite an interesting and novel
experiment to photograph some of these crystals formed of minerals such
as saltpetre, alum and others, and to compare them with the structural
formation of snow crystals.

[Illustration: 90. Note the young germ crystals invading this crystal]

[Illustration: 91. Granular pellet crystals from a warm cloud]

[Illustration: 92. Columnar six-sided type. Singular effect of miniature
photographs enclosed]

Water itself as a liquid is to all appearances formless; when
sufficiently cooled, however, the molecules are brought within play of
the crystallising force, and thus arrange themselves in more or less
attractive crystals. A most interesting point, well worthy of
consideration, is that it is extremely improbable that anyone has as yet
found, perhaps never will find, the one preëminently beautiful and
symmetrical snow crystal which nature has probably fashioned in her most
artistic mood—her masterpiece. The study of this unique branch of nature
work is as yet in its infancy. It possesses all the charm of novelty,
and many who take it up will find in it a source of much pleasure as
well as instruction.

It would seem that there is really no limit to the number of distinct
forms and types among the snow crystals. It will be noted that many of
the designs are most rare and fanciful, and really worthy of developing
and reproducing in many ways. The open, lace-like types might well be
copied by a jeweller or worker in precious stones, for nothing could be
more exquisite in a pendant or brooch than one of these snow-crystal
designs carried out in diamonds. Others suggest rare patterns for lace
work and embroideries, while others are wonderfully effective pieces of
mosaic work, or suggestive studies for stained window-glass. Many of the
patterns might well serve for wall-paper or print material designs. And
as a drawing lesson, the simpler forms might be copied and with their
history and detail, afford a pleasant and profitable study.

Ideas along these lines it seems to me are limitless and well worth

Again, to quote Whittier, how charmingly has he portrayed, in the
following lines, the strangely beautiful and mysterious formation of the
ethereal snow crystal:

[Illustration: 93. Sleet, sharp and stinging]

  “So all night long the storm roared on;
  The morning broke without the sun;
  In tiny spherule traced with lines
  Of Nature’s geometric signs,
  In starry flake, and pellicle,
  All day the hoary meteors fell.”

That all may know and understand the life history and formation of the
crystals shown in the photographs, I will give a brief description of
each which you will doubtless find both interesting and instructive. It
will be seen that each crystal possesses some individual characteristic
differing entirely from its predecessor, and each, in its way,
fascinating and beautiful.

No. 61. A very showy crystal, of local-storm type, also a blizzard
crystal formed in low, warm altitude.

No. 62. This exquisite crystal might well suggest a jewelled brooch or
pendant of rare workmanship. It began its formation in a very high
altitude, where the solid, hexagonal centre was formed, started to
descend in plain hexagonal form, but was caught upwards by the rushing
clouds, tossed about awhile, and then allowed to pass into a lower,
warmer altitude where its elaborated branches were added.

No. 63. A high, frigid-altitude crystal, notable for its delicately
traced centre design, and the six curious, apparently raised formations
in the plainer spaces.

No. 64. Remarkable for its six beautiful prism-like rays, and central
wheel-like structure.

No. 65. An exquisitely designed centre, with air inclusions strongly

No. 66. This crystal has been formed of two sections, and must have
encountered another broken crystal in its travels, with which it united,
and from this its crystalline growth formed.

No. 68. An oddity. The air inclusions are very strongly marked and bring
into sharp relief its rare central design.

No. 69. A local-storm type. These crystals are always loose and feathery
in construction.

[Illustration: 94. Old snow, re-crystallized]

[Illustration: 95. Freak crystal. Developed the sides only which fell

No. 70 was started in a very high, cold altitude, and completed in
warmer clouds.

No. 71. A rare trigonal form, a sort of “freak” crystal.

No. 72 has delicate tracings.

No. 73. A very remarkable group of snow crystals, which always attract
wonder and incredulity, as they appear upon close inspection to
represent quite a pretty set of collar buttons or studs. These snow
crystals are the product of a very great storm, and they travelled a
long distance before reaching the earth. They were generated in a very
high, frigid altitude. When these singular snow crystals descended they
fell in parachute fashion, the larger section downward.

No. 74. Low-altitude type.

No. 75. This crystal is remarkable for the peculiar delicately etched
tracings of its centre, and the rather curious designs in each scallop.
A rarity.

No. 76. A crystal powdered with frost-work; has granular edges.

No. 77. A flower type, having few air inclusions, as it grew rapidly and

No. 78. A very beautiful jewelled design of the diamond pendant type. A
local storm crystal.

No. 79. Also a local-storm crystal, generated in warm, low clouds.

No. 80. A perfect hexagonal type having rarely beautiful air inclusions.

No. 81. A lace-like crystal.

No. 82. Note the very beautiful centre elaboration of this crystal, and
the plain, apparently unfinished branches.

No. 83. An extremely showy crystal; also a blizzard type.

No. 84. A singularly beautiful type, having unique centre elaborations,
and perfect, glass-like prismatic branches.

No. 85. Here we have what appears at first glance to be some secret
emblem or Masonic order sent from cloud-land. Of rare trigonal, solid

[Illustration: 96. Snow rollers. Very rare]

[Illustration: 97. Scattered like huge muffs over large tracts of land
they lie]

No. 86. An Egyptian mystery. Study the markings of this strange crystal
closely; its delicately etched centre formation, and the strange
characters which form its border. May it not well be some secret cypher
message from the skies? Who shall say? This crystal is an extremely cold
weather type, as all solidly formed crystals are.

No. 87. The peculiarity of this crystal is the apparent correction made
in its nuclear construction.

No. 88. A very delicate and beautiful type. Note the strange grouping of
symmetrically arranged dots in its centre formation.

No. 89. Trigonal. A general-storm type.

No. 90. Upon the face of this crystal appear young germ crystals which
have attached themselves to the crystal proper.

No. 91. Round, granular snow pellets, from cumulus clouds.

No. 92. Columnar snow crystals; a peculiarity noticeable in these
ice-like prisms is that each one contains apparently, at first glance, a
picture held in its depths.

No. 93. This is another distinct type of snow, the needle, or spicular
form—sleety, which stings and cuts the face when driven by high winds.

No. 94. A piece of old snow re-crystallised.

No. 95. This crystal is remarkable in that it fell and grew heavier side
downward, leaving its upper branches undeveloped.

Nos. 96 and 97 show the mysterious “snow rollers” scattered over the
surface of a field, with a glimpse of the wintery landscape as a

Nos. 98, 99, and 100 are “freak” crystals, 100 showing singularly shaped
tablets attached.

No. 101. A twin crystal.

No. 102. This crystal grew very rapidly and continuously; a warm cloud

No. 103. Two types combined.

No. 104. A rare design, with fluted prisms, central etchings notable.

[Illustration: 98. A freak crystal]

[Illustration: 99. Two broken crystals united]

[Illustration: 100. A society emblem. High altitude]

[Illustration: 101. Twin crystal]

No. 105. A remarkably fine specimen. A cold-weather type of crystal.
Also has marked perfection in air inclusions.

No. 106. This crystal is another great traveller, a high-altitude type.
Such crystals usually possess marked precision and finish in detail as
they are long in forming.

No. 107. A star crystal.

No. 108. Notable for its very dark centre, and scroll-like detail.

No. 109. Plain, high altitude type.

No. 110. Local storm type.

No. 111. A prismatic beauty.

No. 112. A very frigid-altitude type.

No. 113. Contrasting, low-altitude type.

No. 114. This crystal possesses a remarkably intricate and noteworthy

No. 115. Also has elaborate centre design.

No. 116. A remarkably beautiful, jewelled effect; intricate centre. This
crystal is another mystery. It is of a high-altitude type, and is called
“the arrow crystal” because of the six clearly defined arrows upon its
surface. A crystal worthy of study.

No. 117. Remarkable feathery type. Low-altitude crystal.

No. 118. Notable for very dark centre, and invasion of germ crystals
upon its surface.

No. 119 shows a high-altitude type where the centre hexagonal portion is
well perfected, but the branch-like rays show imperfections and
incompleteness of structural formation.

No. 120 is one of the most showy crystals in the collection. Of trigonal
formation with fantastic prism-like branches; a high-altitude type.

No. 121 is a strange crystal, something of a “freak,” while No. 122 is a
singularly beautiful type, notable for its very dark centre, and the
unique and rather mysterious tracings which go to form its border. This
crystal must have remained in a very high altitude for some time before
descending as it shows finely finished detail.

[Illustration: 102. A feathery type. Local storm]

[Illustration: 103. Leaf-like terminations]

No. 123 is a beautiful flower type. Usually the branches merge together
but in this instance they remained open like flower petals.

No. 124. A high-altitude crystal covered with a deposit of granular

No. 125. Very high-altitude type, having curious inner tracings.

No. 126. A beautiful symmetrical star design, with leaf-like terminating
branches. A local-storm type.

No. 127. A great traveller from a cold high altitude.

[Illustration: 104. Delicately etched centre]

[Illustration: 105. High altitude crystal. Rare and singularly perfect
in construction]

                         ICE AND ITS FORMATION

[Illustration: 106. Solid type]

[Illustration: 107. A star type. Very high altitude]

[Illustration: 108. Very unusual centre formation]

[Illustration: 109. Mosaic like]

                               CHAPTER V
                         ICE AND ITS FORMATION

  “Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak
  From the snow five thousand summers old;
  On open wold and hilltop bleak, it gathered all the cold—
  The little brook heard it and built a roof
  ’Neath which he could house him, winter-proof.”

When in mid-winter, pond, lake, and river are covered with a glittering
icy coat of mail, when the rushing babble of the little brook sounds
strangely muffled and restrained because of its icy fetters, then we
know that all nature is once more in the stern, iron grasp of winter,
which brings with its piercing icy breath, great discomfort, as well as
charm and exhilaration to all.

For who has not at some time in their lives revelled in the wonderful,
joyous pleasures of skating? The ice crystal-clear beneath our polished
steel, as we glided bird-like, swiftly over the polished, mirror-like
pond beneath us. What exhilaration and glow we found in the fascinating
sport. But how seldom, if ever, did we give a thought to the wonderful
formation, and the beauties of that crystal surface beneath our flying
feet, or did we dream that every bit of that ice was cemented and joined
together in exquisite mosaic-like patterns, formed by countless millions
of tiny ice flowers, far too delicate and small to be seen by the naked
eye. This wonderful process of ice formation goes on, as Lowell so
charmingly writes:

  “All night by the white stars’ frosty gleams
  He groined his arches and matched his beams;
  Slender and clear were his crystal spars
  As the lashes of light that trim the stars;
  Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt
  Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt.”

[Illustration: 110. Feathery type]

[Illustration: 111. Clear prism-like branches]

[Illustration: 112. Solid type. Probably travelled a long distance]

[Illustration: 113. Low altitude crystal. Usually feathery and light in

The conversion of liquid water through freezing into a solid crystalline
state is certainly a most interesting process, as well as a mysterious
one. There are many more difficulties to be encountered by crystal
photographers in the study of ice formation, and its minute detail, than
in that of either the snow or frost. Still many instructive and very
interesting experiments have been made and facts obtained relating to
the formation of the ice, and it has recently been possible to secure a
valuable set of photographs which are wonderfully interesting, inasmuch
as they serve to show the singular formation and development of ice
crystal structure from start to finish.

Ice and water are so optically alike, that the formation of these ice
crystals cannot be clearly detected without the aid of a microscope.
These ethereal ice flowers are extremely frail and thin, less than one
one-hundredth of an inch in thickness; and they vary from just a mere
microscopic speck, to one-third of an inch or so in tabular diameter.

Generally every freezing body of water contains these beautiful ice
crystals; myriads of tiny transparent ice flowers which assume distinct
types and groups, more or less symmetrical. In order to watch the growth
and development of these ice crystals which build up in such quantities
on the surface of pond, river and brook, and which go, as a whole, to
form solid ice, certain artificial conditions of light are necessary.
These may be simply furnished by using a small mirror placed in a
horizontal position beneath the surface of the water which is in process
of freezing. Or, if one wishes to make an interesting study of the
strange phenomena within doors, it may be quite possible to do so by
simply placing water in a pail, and in the bottom of the pail, beneath
the water, a mirror in a horizontal position. Of course the water should
be kept in a cold room where it will freeze, or beneath an open window.
The mirror affords the necessary white background, and in this manner
ice in process of freezing may be plainly viewed from its first germ
growth to the finished ice crystal.

[Illustration: 114. Having notably elaborate centre]

[Illustration: 115. Very elaborate design]

[Illustration: 116. The arrow crystal. Six well defined arrows in the

[Illustration: 117. Low altitude type]

The process by which each water molecule, obedient to the great laws
which govern nature, draws together in countless numbers to form and
build themselves into countless flower-like ice crystals, which go to
form solid ice is a magical, fascinating process, well worth watching.

The types of ice crystals differ, however, upon still surfaces, to those
which form upon running or disturbed water. Still, such a similarity
exists in all ice crystal formation, and their habits of growth, that
one may get a very clear idea of the process of their development by
observing it in the simple manner above described.

Their different stages of growth is very clearly divided into five or
six types of crystalline formation, and they pass from beginning to end,
through the various stages of development as the nuclear, or
smooth-edged crystal, the scalloped, the ray-like and the branching
stages of growth; after which they lose their individuality by becoming
solidified and merged into the solid ice form.

When the ice flowers or crystals first begin to appear, it is usually
upon the surface of the water, and close to the sides of the pail.
Frequently they push out in long, delicate, needle- or lance-like forms
while upon the plain edges of these sharp lances, scallops and delicate
serrations quickly follow. But the individual or flower type of crystals
which grow and scatter themselves over the surface of the water, do not
attach themselves to any object, but grow in a detached fashion, and are
really the most interesting crystal for observation and study. These
detached crystals following out the laws which govern also the frost and
snow crystals from their first stage of development, form a simple,
smooth-edged disc of very thin transparent ice, gradually merging into
the same, hexagonal, flower-like pattern, which governs the frost and
snow crystals, although during the first stages of their development
they show no tendency to follow hexagonal outlines. The photographed
illustrations showing this type of ice crystal, from its start to finish
were most of them taken from indoor observation.

[Illustration: 118. High altitude crystal with germs attached]

[Illustration: 119. A daintily etched centre design]

Beginning with photograph No. 128, we have the germ or birth, showing
the first stage which the ice crystal assumes in its formation. It is
always seen as a round disc of very clear, thin ice.

No. 129 illustrates the second stage of growth in which the tiny
serrations or scallops are just beginning to shoot out and form about
the germ or disc. Frequently they remain in this stage of development
for some time without further change, but when it is zero weather they
quickly increase in growth, and soon begin to show clearly defined
scallops as shown in photograph No. 130.

In No. 131, the ice crystal has at last begun to assume definite form,
and its hexagonal shape is more clearly defined; while in No. 132, we
have the completed flower-like outline, and in Nos. 133 and 134 the
finished ice flower with its air inclusions of light and shade
perfected. This shows the entire process of growth of the commonest type
of these ice crystals, after which process they lose their identity and
merge into the solid ice film.

However, ice film growth is not wholly supported in this manner, for
branches often form upon the under side of the ice film, and grow
downward into the water, as shown in photograph No. 135, which is a
section of ice with fern-like crystal-growth growing down into the
water, thus aiding in growth and solidification. Each type of crystal,
and there are five, represents some different characteristic growth—the
long, narrow, needle type, the simple stars of six points, and the
spherical or discoidal forms; also those resembling coral-like

[Illustration: 120. Branchy trigonal crystal]

[Illustration: 121. An uncommon type]

Photograph No. 136 shows how individual ice flowers hamper each other in
growth; that the points reaching out into clear water grow and draw to
themselves with greater freedom the water molecules, while the points
intruded upon or crowded out by other crystals or flowers, cease to
grow, and do not interfere with the growth of others.

Nos. 137 and 138 are still other forms of ice-growth, the needle-like,
lance-like form which we may frequently observe pushing out from the
banks of a small pond or brook. These needle-like forms of ice
eventually acquire branches about their entire radius, which grow and
merge, with other ice flowers of different types, into solid ice upon
the surface of the water.

No. 139 shows this type of ice-crystal completed. These ice-crystals
form and rise like magic in early winter, especially upon and around the
new ice upon the edges of small brooks, and streams.

  “Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
  But silvery mosses that downward grew;
  Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief
  With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf.”

Another very interesting example of ice-growth and formation which we
occasionally discover upon the window-panes, and which should not be
confounded with the frost work etchings, as it is in reality a thin
transparent ice film, which frequently assumes exquisite formations and
patterns. In No. 141 _a_ the coral-like branch is a beautiful example of
this window-pane ice, while upon the same pane of glass in precisely the
same temperature we find another type, as 141 _b_ resembling somewhat
the transparent wing of an insect. There are but two distinct types of
the ice film etchings, and they are classified as the feather form and
the arborescent types. It is presumed that the forming of types is
largely governed by the varying thickness of the glass upon which the
ice film is deposited, and to the presence or absence of minute frozen
particles of ice beneath the film. The feather form seems to develop
upon cooler positions of the glass, and where the water film is

[Illustration: 122. One of the most elaborate crystals shown. Notable
for its very dark centre and the curious detail of its border]

[Illustration: 123. A rare design because of its open petal-like
formation. Usually such crystals are solid]

[Illustration: 124. Very frigid altitude crystal having remarkably
etched centre]

[Illustration: 125. A snow crystal covered with granular deposit of

Nos. 142, 143, and 144 are all rare examples of window ice. No. 16 shows
to perfection a greatly magnified section of the coral-like tracings in
detail. This window-pane ice, unlike the frost etchings, is always
transparent or opaque water ice.

The ice pictures form in rather an exclusive fashion, and two types
never intrude upon each other’s territory, although we often find both
types upon one pane of glass, as shown in the photographed illustration
Nos. 140 _a_ and 140 _b_.

The ice films always begin to develop upon the colder portions of the
glass first. Feathery plume-like designs form first upon shaded
portions, and slowly follow the fading sunlight as it passes from one
pane to another, until the entire window is often covered with these
transparent ice pictures. During zero weather the feathery types thicken
to an astonishing degree, more so than the opposite type, or arborescent
ice film.

Another type of ice formation, and an interesting one, which in the
photograph resembles somewhat a vegetable root or growth, is a form of
ice which develops and grows upon and under peaty soil. These singular
little ice columns rise as by magic, and form a miniature forest of tiny
ice columns; frequently raising upon their tops the soil, stones, etc.,
to a height of many inches.

[Illustration: 126. Local storm type]

[Illustration: 127. Cold high altitude]

Nos. 145, 146 and 147, show photographed examples of this type of
columnar ice, No. 147 being a largely magnified section of one of these
tiny columns in detail. Icicles are another interesting phenomenon
belonging to ice study. They are evidently produced by the thawing of
snow, and we frequently discover “freak” icicles hanging pendent from
the house eaves during a thaw. They are, in a way, one of the many
mysteries pertaining, and to be classed as ice crystallisations, and are
closely related to the wonderful stalactite formations found in deep

Beautiful beyond powers of description are the magical, fairy-like
scenes which follow the passing of a great ice-storm. If you are out of
doors just after such a storm, when the first rays of the sun begin to
shine forth, lighting and touching every ice-sheathed twig with gold,
and before the ice has begun to melt and fall from the trees, you can
well imagine that you are catching a fleeting glimpse of fairyland!
Trees that before the storm waved their leaf-stripped branches, bare and
unlovely, in wailing symphony, tuned by the bleak wintry blast, have
suddenly been clothed anew and made beautiful for a brief time, by their
silvery coating of ice. Each tiny twig glitters and scintillates and
crackles beneath the pale wintry sunshine; beautiful beyond words to

These ice-storms occur more frequently in January, and are usually
followed by a warm wave. They are seen in all their beauty in the New
England States. Frequently after such an ice-storm there is a noticeable
swelling and expansion of twigs and buds; the first suggestion of
verdure and an early spring.

It is intended in this article but to touch upon the simple structural
formation of the ice. There are still many important facts to discover,
many interesting problems to solve. It would be interesting to know why
the ice crystals which originate and have their being in the same body
of water, and under precisely the same conditions of temperature vary so
greatly in their structural formation.

[Illustration: 128. Germ or birth of ice crystal]

[Illustration: 129. Discoidal ice crystal. Second stage in which crimps
begin to appear around the edge of disc]

[Illustration: 130. Third stage of development. Scallops well defined]

Ice crystallisation in all its branches is a fascinating and wonderfully
instructive study. It is still in its infancy, there is much as yet
undiscovered material for experiment awaiting both the student and the
camera specialist.

  “Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
  For the gladness of Heaven to shine through, and here
  He had caught the nodding bulrush tops
  And hung them thickly with diamond drops,
  That crystallised the beams of moon and sun,
  And made a star of every one:
  No mortal builder’s rare device
  Could match this winter-palace of ice.”

[Illustration: 131. Fourth stage, flower-like shape beginning to show]

[Illustration: 132. Ice flower completed]

[Illustration: 133. Flower-like shape fully formed]

[Illustration: 134. Ice flower beginning to show shadings]

                          THE BENEFICENT RAIN

[Illustration: 135. Ice crystals growing downwards into the brook]

[Illustration: 136. Group of ice crystals. Observe how in growing they
avoid other]

[Illustration: 137. First stage. Lance-like form seen pushing out from
banks of brooks]

                               CHAPTER VI
                          THE BENEFICENT RAIN

  “We knew it would rain for the poplar’s showed
  The white of their leaves, the amber grain
  Shrunk in the wind and the lightning now
  Is tangled in tremulous skeins of rain.”

Fickle April, the season of sunshine and rain, comes on apace; and the
bluebird, that “comes first you know, like a violet that has taken
wings,” has piped his clear advance notes in the hedges, and a bright
message of promise his cheery song always brings, of blossoms and
verdure soon to follow.

Surely each changing month brings with its advent its own peculiar
charms. The seasons of frost, snow and ice are full of beauty to those
of us who have looked into, and delight to ponder over, the many secret
ways of nature. But April with its sudden showers, which eventually do
bring forth the May flowers, we hail with hope; and are only too happy
to leave behind us, as a pleasant remembrance, the more sombre, frozen
charms of winter.

The ice-bound brooks have at last burst their fetters, in the meadows by
the little streams the stems of the willows are yellowing, and here and
there the pussy willows, in their silver, furry coats, are bursting
forth; the alders have sprouted, and from the ooze of the marshes the
swamp-cabbages are pushing forth their sharp-pointed purple sprouts.
While the honking geese, flock after flock, trail wedge-like in the
early mists of the morning, across the gray skies. In the sedgy places
where the flags are just sprouting the “peepers” at twilight begin their
spring chorus, and with the advent of all these signs of advancing
spring, we realise that the “backbone of winter” has fairly been broken,
and the earth is preparing and waiting for April, with its beneficent
showers to bring new life into all dormant buds and vegetation beneath
the earth and to arouse them once more from their long winter’s

[Illustration: 138. Second stage of lance-like crystal]

[Illustration: 139. Lance-like form completed]

[Illustration: 140. Freak ice crystals]

[Illustration: 140 b. Group of ice crystals containing germs, “freaks”
and one completed ice flower]

  “April cold with dropping rain
  Willows and lilac bring again
  With the whistle of returning birds.”

Since the rain plays such an important role in nature’s plans, certain
facts concerning its origin, and the clouds which govern its formation
and fall, will prove of interest.

The prior causes of rain are due to the evaporation of moisture which is
constantly going on, from ocean, lake and river, and all vegetation;
until the air is freely saturated with moisture thus evaporated. Then
“Mother Nature” assists, causing turbulent, driving winds to rise, and
all her elements combine forthwith, to precipitate the moisture; and
then follows the rain.

The rays of the sun falling upon the air stratum nearest the earth cause
it to arise and expand. Thus, as a result, the clouds are formed. The
ascending air leaves a partial vacuum below, which causes surrounding
air to rush inward; which in turn causes winds. Once this process
starts, it tends to grow and perpetuate itself. The inrushing air below
forces the rising air still higher and higher, which causes dense clouds
to form and rush upwards to great heights. Both snow and rain fall as a
result of warm moist air being forced upward to a great altitude, and
its moisture condensed.

The smaller raindrops fall from the lower cloud strata, but the larger
drops descend from a much higher altitude. In the higher, frigid
altitudes where snow, and the granular snow pellets are formed and
exist, in the upper sections of the clouds; by falling down through the
vast cloud regions below, they gradually collect minute cloud particles,
and smaller drops in their travels, and thus, by melting, as they
encounter warmer air currents, form the very large, high-altitude

[Illustration: 141 a. Coral-like branch showing the “feather type” in

[Illustration: 141 b. Window-pane ice. Two forms, the arborescent and
feather types]

It has not until quite recently been possible to measure with any degree
of accuracy, and photograph raindrops in the exact size in which they
fall. But now that it has become possible to do this, it is most
interesting to know the process. It is also most important to be able to
know that certain types of raindrops fall during given storms. For
instance, a very large type of raindrop emanates from a violent
thunder-storm, when there is vivid lightning. Another distinct type
belongs to the general storm, and there are many others, their form and
size being governed entirely by the clouds and the character of the
storms from which they fall.

Hundreds of samples of raindrop impressions have recently been secured,
and the method employed to collect and photograph them is most unique.
To secure these raindrop impressions, emanating from various storms and
clouds, a shallow tin receptacle about four inches in diameter was used,
the bottom of the tin being covered with fine, uncompacted flour an inch
deep. The flour was then exposed to the rain for about four seconds, and
the raindrops allowed to remain in the flour until each drop had
hardened as it fell. These dough pellets, or raindrop impressions were
found, in every instance, to correspond very closely in size to the
raindrops as they fell. When thoroughly dried out they were carefully
removed from their bed of flour, labelled and photographed. This method
of determining the relative dimensions of raindrops which fall during
various types of storms, has proven to be the most satisfactory method
as yet discovered.

[Illustration: 142. Beautiful type of window-ice growing like delicate

[Illustration: 143. Window-pane ice. Resembling pampas grass]

[Illustration: 144. Another type of window-pane ice]

The large raindrops are invariably great travellers. The larger the
drops the greater the height from which they fell. Some of them travel a
distance of five to eight miles before reaching the earth.

Raindrops falling from very high altitudes invariably start out as
snowflakes, as the upper section of a rain-cloud, when formed in the
high frigid altitudes, is usually composed of snow. The general
rain-storm usually furnishes small to medium-sized drops. But sudden
thunder-storms, where the clouds gather in dense, mountain-like
formations, as the one shown in the photographed illustration, furnish
the very largest raindrops which fall, unless we except those which may
sometimes result from the melting of large hailstones, which emanate
sometimes from very violent storms of the whirling, tornado type.

The cold gray rains of early spring, which frequently turn to ice in
falling, and sheathe the branches of trees with a glittering coat of icy
mail, change in character as spring and the warmer weather advances.

The mid-summer thundershower is still another type, and an impressive
one. When all nature lies gasping and parched under the withering heat
of a torrid sun, when the pebbly beds of the little streams are brown
and dry, and the thirsty cattle low plaintively in the sun-scorched
pastures, then suddenly, the south winds send a long-drawn, whispering
sigh through the motionless tree-tops; the poplar leaves begin to
tremble and toss, and faster and faster the thunder heads begin to roll
up and assemble, and rush together, with low ominous mutterings.

The clouds, coppery-hued and black, and full of menace, hang low, and
almost seem to touch the hills, rising winds chase each other and catch
up stray dead leaves and débris, sending them whirling and dancing in
fantastic eddies; while the startled swallows wheel low before the
rushing, mighty tumult of the approaching storm.

[Illustration: 145. Another example of Columnar ice. Formation like
vegetable roots]

[Illustration: 146. Columnar ice, found under peaty soil]

[Illustration: 147. Columnar ice, section shown in detail, largely

Nothing can compare in grandeur, to the marshalling of Nature’s forces
together and the raging fury of a great thunder-storm. Truly the roar of
the thunder may well be likened to Heaven’s artillery, and no
pyrotechnic display ever equals that which the jagged, forked lightning
creates amid the inky, ominous clouds of the heavens. And then the
finale; the low, distant, retreating growls of the passing thunder, the
gradual lifting of the clouds, and then like magic, their leaden,
ominous curtains are swept aside, and the happy sunshine is with us
again, and the earth, refreshed and purified by the grateful shower,
gasps no more in the throes of heat.

And how lovely is nature after such a shower. How sweet and fresh the
air, and how each blade of grass, and all vegetation sparkles and
scintillates anew. The little mountain torrent which trickled so
listlessly, just a mere silver thread among its mossy stones, has gained
new courage and strength since the shower, and its gurgling may plainly
be heard as it now rushes madly down the incline. The meadow brook has
overflowed its banks, and formed a miniature lake, in which the grateful
cattle stand contentedly knee-deep. All the birds rejoice, and the
robins, noisiest of them all, pause to plume afresh their wet feathers,
and pipe their peculiar rain song; a distinct note of gratitude and joy
for the coming of the rain.

The rain, besides playing a most important part in aiding all
vegetation, is an acknowledged and powerful agent in the cleansing and
purification of the atmosphere. Foul air is dissipated, and dust and
particles which rise in clouds and permeate the air we breathe, are
beaten to the earth and dissipated by the kindly rain.

[Illustration: 148. Very great thunder-storm drops]

[Illustration: 149. Rain from high cirro-stratus clouds]

[Illustration: 150. Rain from low nimbus clouds]

Storms which arise in pleasant summer weather are frequently caused by
the diurnal breezes which ascend mountain slopes causing sudden clouds
to assemble, and thunder-storms to follow. Violent thunder-storms are
caused by the intensely hot air which arises from the earth in summer,
and which encounters the cooler air descending.

Frequently “heat lightning” may be observed flickering fitfully in the
skies, when there is no rain. When such is the case, you may be assured
that a storm cloud hovers somewhere in that direction, although it may
not be visible, or its thunder audible. Whenever the lightning is
brilliant and continuous the storm is sure to be of a violent character,
when frequently the destructive bolts are fifty miles away.

The rainbow, that wonderfully beautiful bow of prismatic tints, which
sometimes throws its ethereal arch across the heavens for a brief while,
is caused by the reflection of the sun’s rays shining upon drops of
rain, the colours being arranged in definite order; red, orange, yellow,
green, blue, indigo and violet. The lunar rainbow, which occasionally
forms at night when the moon shines, is not of frequent occurrence, but
very beautiful when it does deign to show itself. Its colouring is not
nearly as distinct at the rainbow, but ghostly, and of a pale-yellowish
tint. Frequently a double rainbow is seen after a shower; this is but a
reflection of the rainbow proper, but indescribably beautiful.

In the coming of the rainbow we have a Biblical symbol. It is spoken of
in Genesis, and was used as a token of the Covenant; as a Divine promise
to man, that the earth should never again be destroyed by flood.

There are numberless so-called signs, which are considered reliable
indications of rain. Almost invariably a continuous south wind will, in
most localities, bring in its wake rain in a few days. On the contrary,
a continuous north wind is liable to dispel all rain signs for a time.

[Illustration: 151. Thunder and hail storm type]

[Illustration: 152. From a great rain storm which lasted 15 hours]

A “mackerel sky,” that is, a sky covered with a wide expanse of small
silvery clouds, round in shape, is another rather sure indication of
rain; salmon-coloured, leaden, or silvery clouds are usually indications
of falling weather, and when at sunset the clouds of the west are
brightly coloured, red or flame-coloured, afterwards followed by lighter
hues, streaking up from the place where the sun disappeared, and
stretching far across the sky, finally converging to a common point on
the opposite horizon, you may be quite certain that somewhere within
line of the sun, there is a heavy storm brewing; although it may be
invisible, and hidden by the earth.

We know that in certain parts of the earth the rain seldom falls. In
Lima (Peru), Thebes (Egypt), and in certain sections of North Africa
they very rarely have rain. The presence of forests tends to increase
the rainfall. Over the ocean it is always clear when the trade winds are
blowing steadily, while rains fall continuously in the zone of calms.

Some countries are rarely free from rains; in Hindustan, Brazil and
Guadeloupe the rain is almost continuous, while certain localities are
noted for prolonged seasons of either drought or rain, which occur at
stated periods, as in California.

The benefits derived from the rain are unlimited. After the visitation
of a great and prolonged drought, when lakes and rivers and their many
tributaries, the little mountain torrents which feed them, are dry for
lack of rain; when the gardens and all vegetation at last succumb and
shrivel for lack of moisture; when we really endure great bodily
privation, and domestic animals suffer for lack of water, then we may
realise fully, what a wise and necessary provision the rain is to us.

[Illustration: 153. Thunder cloud]

[Illustration: 154. Nimbus or low stratus clouds]

It seems therefore that there is always a great promise and hope
embodied in the providential falling of the rain at such a crisis;
nothing can express the thought I would convey more clearly than the
following beautiful lines:

  “Hast thou forgotten God who gives the rain?
  Plentiful and merciful the long showers pour
  On parching field where dust and drouth were sore,
  Yet, will thine eyes watch out the night again?

  “What hope had earth gasping at yesternoon?
  What hope hast thou whose comfort shall be soon.
  To-morrow where the upland fields lay black,
  Thou shalt go forth and look on life come back.
  Harvest shall follow seed-time yet again.
  Hast thou forgotten God who gives the rain?”

                                THE END

                       [Illustration: Endpapers]

                       [Illustration: Endpapers]

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)

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