January 16, 2014

Mid-Winter Vernal Pools

One of the beauties of the spring woods is the appearance of shallow pools of water formed from melting snow, incubators of frogs and toads, which disappear as the moisture is absorbed into the earth. During this week of January thaw with its abundant rain, several pools have appeared, unusual for mid-winter. In yesterday's bright warm weather, like a mid-March day, the pools captured the light of the sky, crisscrossed by the reflections of trees. (click images to enlarge and see the rich details.)

The frosty nights have left ice in the center of the ponds, a greenish crackled surface.

Delicate reflections are nestled in the curve of a fallen tree.

There are magical layers of reality in the pools, as we see objects caught in the ice, submerged beneath it, reflected in the water.

The frozen bubbles are especially marvelous, hovering over a moss covered rock.

A smaller pool had a spectacular all-over pattern of icing, like a complex jigsaw puzzle.

Each edge caught light in a delicate line, barely obscuring the forest floor below.

It is lovely to have a brief respite from the cold, to be reminded that spring will indeed arrive, but I always feel sad to see bare ground in winter; it seems too far from the right order of things. So I was happy today to wake to a very light coat of snow on the ground, a gentle return to winter, with snow flurries almost all day long. My cats are not happy; they kept trying to go out but strangely enough it was no longer warm and grassy outdoors, so they sat on the porch and drearily contemplated the change of weather. Their friend, though, surveyed the scene with satisfaction.


  1. Thank you, Altoon for these glimpses of winter, both the worlds of melting, and the return of the snow.

  2. It won't be too much longer and the salamanders will be marching into those pools. Great photos.

  3. Thanks, Cecelia and Lisa, for your nice comments.