The plan was to clean outdoors this weekend. After three nights of sleeping with the windows open, listening to my little owl friend hoot softly, I thought for sure Spring was finally here. March already came in as a lion and I fully expected it to leave as a lamb.
Oh, how wrong my expectations!
The thermostat barely cleared double digits yesterday morning, registering 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow coated the cars, the sidewalk, the yard, and firmly pushed my outdoor task list back into hibernation.
Don’t get me wrong, I like winter. In fact, I love winter. But I, and my seedlings, don’t like the back and forth battle winter and spring wage with each other during the month of March. Like watching two feuding parents battle over custody of the environment, I’m the child, caught in the middle, just wanting temperatures to be consistent.
There is a small miracle tucked in the frigid air mass.
On very cold mornings, I walk past the old windows at the top of the steps and marvel at the frost patterns that build up on the storm windows. Until recently, I didn’t think much of the ice buildup, other than to reflect on the crystal formation of the water vapor that is trapped between the original (and homemade) single paned windows and the ancient storm windows meant to provide a layer of insulating protection between the interior glass and the outside world.
Until recently I didn’t know my pretty frost patterns had a name: frost ferns.
I just happened upon a Weather Channel show called Strangest Weather On Earth (yes, I’m a bit of a geek and love to learn about anything). Frost ferns were one of the topics and were described as being somewhat rare. You see, it takes a certain set of conditions to make frost ferns:
- A large temperature difference between the outside and inside environments
- Poorly insulated glass
- Lots of humidity on the inside of the glass
Why so rare? Newer houses, better insulation, bathroom vent fans, double- and triple-paned windows are now the norm.
Even my frost ferns are limited.
As part of the roof project happening this year, new windows are replacing the ones built by the original builder/owner of this house. Yesterday was the last time graceful, lacy fronds of ice will cover my windows.
The nice thing is that I knew it was the last time so I stood there as the morning light streamed through the windows at the top of the steps and reflected on all the replacements Husband #2 and I made to this house. We’ve upgraded everything – new heater, new air conditioner, new electric panel, new insulation, new windows, new sewage line, new landscaping – and now, finally under my solo ownership, new siding and new windows on the small shed dormer and a completely new roof on the entire house.
As I move forward making this home better, I lose something that was inefficiently beautiful.
Life is unpredictable,
It changes with the seasons,
Even your coldest winter,
Happens for the best of reasons,
And though it feels eternal,
Like all you’ll ever do is freeze,
I promise spring is coming,
And with it, brand new leaves.
The poem above by Erin Hanson speaks to me. Perhaps that’s what nostalgia is all about, recognizing the good in the old, even though it was inherently poorly designed. I’ll miss the pretty ice etchings on the old permanently sealed windows, but still be happy with the fully functioning and better R-value new windows.
Frost ferns will be replaced with open air spring breezes, cricket-filled nights, and a hooting owl.