It is an ancient Hedgerow,
And it runneth by the road.
“By thy cold grey frost and glittering ice,
That stopp’st the stream which flow’d”
That, of course, has nothing to do with anything that follows. Because the Rime I refer to is not that of Coleridge’s ilk, but rather the type of frost which occurs in very particular atmospheric conditions. I first saw it two years ago, when temperatures dropped to -10° for a few days. And it was back yesterday, as the “Beast from the East” swept through with the required combination of cold and fog.
Normally, frost occurs when there’s moisture in the air, and the ground temperature falls to below zero. The moisture falls to the ground, and freezes. Rime (or hoarfrost) forms when trees, plants, or other objects fall to below zero, and there’s sufficient moisture in their vicinity. Hence, it usually requires fog to really show off its best. It’s effectively frost, but all the way up, rather than just on the ground. The result is spectacular – it’s as beautiful as a light dusting of snow, but without the bother. Certainly more stark and white than is shown in the photo above – the cellphone camera just doesn’t do it justice. (The picture here is the view from my office, looking towards St. Mary’s Church in Wythall.)
It does mean that it’s particularly cold, though – and cycling in to the office is a rather challenging affair. Especially through the ford on Houndsfield Lane, where the road is covered in swathes of ice that require artful dodging. But the hedges and lanes of the countryside are just a joy to behold, and getting lungfuls of freezing air does wonders for the invigoration of one’s system. Days like this are certainly a highlight of the winter.