The Black Ice Came

The Polar Vortex came

On the heels of the murderous Frost

And wrapped the Garden in ice

Black Ice


The Fans made a sound like rustling parchment

When the wind shifted

Cracked ice crashed onto fans below

Each leaf encased in its own glass coffin


Shiny Black Ice

Transformed the leaves

Into stiff caricatures of themselves


Dead Pygmy Palm leaves

And live ones too

Froze in a robotic dance


Cardboard Palm leaves white in death

Shrouded in light

Awful and Magical


Black Ice dumped injury onto insult

Flung down by a careless bird


An Elephant Ear bent toward the earth

Her leaf falling like hair readying itself for the brush





The Ancient Gargoyle

Marked the massacre


79 Comments on “The Black Ice Came

  1. Thank you for braving the freeze to get us these sensational shots George. Shiny Black Ice is especially lovely. But it is your accompanying commentary that grabs me most. “Her leaf falling like hair readying itself for the brush….” beautiful! πŸ™‚


    • Well, Madhu, this world we made for ourselves of steel and manufactured stone hurts me. I find comfort and assurance in the natural world where the rules may be hard but they are always fair. I am happy you enjoy my little garden adventures. I am always delighted to see your beautiful face!


  2. Really beautiful images, George, very well done. Ha! – you’re drowning in ice, we’re drowning in water! I hope you’re fine, my friend! Adrian


    • Thank you, Adrian. I appreciate that coming from a great photographer of black and white images. I am a “color” person, but I’ve been trying my hand at monochrome a bit lately. Thanks for stopping by to visit! πŸ™‚ YES, we’re freezing and you’re drowning. “Death by ice is not nice.” What is the line about death from drowning? I forget the little poem. Chuckle…


    • Thanks, Patti! It was cold. Very cold. And I was frightened that I’d lose all of my Fans. All is well, a bit battered, but okay. Nobody died in the garden. Thank goodness. πŸ˜‰


  3. you know, I love the textures here. It makes me want to see the whole thing. Perhaps a triptych or a huge panorama would be really fun with these. shiny black ice is my fave. it takes some effort to dial in that kind of texture. I really would enjoy seeing a photo book of yours πŸ™‚


    • Thank you very much, Vinnieh! I am a big lover of color. I don’t usually dabble in monochrome, but the ice seemed to lend itself to that. I’m glad you liked the photographs. Thanks for stopping by to visit! πŸ™‚


    • Ah, thank you, Colline! We aren’t accustomed to that much ice. The garden will survive, thank goodness. Thanks for stopping by to visit us! πŸ™‚


    • Thanks, Narelle. The garden will survive, although she’s a little battered! I’ll be around soon to see what you’re up to! πŸ™‚ Thank you for stopping by to visit!


    • Thank you. I am always attempting to say something, so I am glad to hear that I was able to communicate what I felt about the subject. I understand life closer to the bone. There is little nuance or delicacy in what I have to say so my photographs are not of fragile subjects. I appreciate your evaluation very much, Richard.


  4. I’m glad there wasn’t too much damage to your garden, but I will say the photographs were amazing! They were perfect in black and white and your writing was great, too!


    • Hi, WL! I’m glad you liked them. The frost and freeze shocked me and the plants a bit. But, they will recover. I will be happy to see spring this year. Winter is not my favorite season! Chuckle… Thanks for dropping by to visit, as you always do! πŸ™‚


  5. Ice has been in short supply here. We have had unending rain and floods instead but the garden doesn’t really like it any better. The plants are confused thinking it’s spring


    • Your weather sounds almost worse than mine. Plants do not do well in soggy conditions. And, they do get confused. Even after our cold spell, the bushes have started to put on new growth. I hope we don’t have another killing frost! I will be happy to see spring this year, for sure! Thanks for stopping by, Marie! πŸ™‚


    • Hi, Sync! Thanks. I appreciate that “wow”! I haven’t been around to the Eyeball yet, but I haven’t been anywhere else either, so I’m not just ignoring you… Did I tell you that I like the abstract “eyeball” gravatar? I really do. I like it. Imagine that? Me and Eyeballs… Thanks for stopping by to visit! πŸ™‚


    • Thanks, Ray. I about froze out there surveying the ice! I was in a real panic about the trees, but they are okay now. I’ll lose a few palm fronds, but nothing major, thank goodness. You should have been here to join in the fun! It was miserable… I’m glad you liked the photos. πŸ™‚


    • Thank you, NoNo! The old gargoyle is a favorite subject for my lens. He’s been around for so many years that I’d miss him if he wandered off. πŸ˜‰


  6. Even the name – Polar Vortex sounds damaging.
    Hope all that or most of that can be saved.
    Gargy looks cute πŸ™‚


    • Ha-ha! I know, the name does sound ominous. Yes, the garden will survive mostly intact. I’ll pass your compliment along to Gargy. πŸ™‚ Thanks!


    • Thank you, Kenn. Being the quintessential drama queen that I am, I was in a veritable fit when I saw the ice. Panic would be an understatement. I nearly froze off my fingers and paralyzed my toes racing from one frozen baby to the next convinced that all was lost. As it turns out, nothing much will be lost. Thank goodness! I’m glad you like my photos of it. πŸ™‚


  7. Black and white is perfect for the destruction and your descriptions were imaginative – well done. We have escaped a hard freeze or even a heavy frost as we are so close to the water so the cold weather has done little damage. I remember years ago when we would have a hard freeze almost every winter. You will appreciate your garden even more in the spring! Love the devilish gargoyle!


    • Thank you so much, Jo Nell. You are ever my cheerleader! I appreciate it. This is the first real frost that we’ve had in several years. The ice didn’t hurt, but the frost chewed on some stuff! Actually, I won’t lose anything completely, and the spring will restore things. The ice frightened me, but I finally realized that all was not lost, after all! πŸ™‚


  8. Oh no! That’s terrible to have lost so many of your tropical plants. What about the big palms? It’s been terribly cold here this winter too; there’s snow on the ground from yesterday. I remember many winters when it never got to freezing there. Oh well, Kelli will be heavily patronizing the nursery when it gets warm again!


    • Well, as it turns out, nothing will be lost. Some of the lower palm fronds are badly burned, but that’s okay since they are several years old and Romero wants to chop them off every year! Losing the staghorn ferns was my fault. I forgot to bring them indoors. I also left the bromeliads out. I think some of them are goners too. Altogether, it is not bad. The Pygmy Date Palms in the front of the house look fairly burned, but they won’t die. We have to trim them, feed them, and haul in tons of mulch to get them going in the spring. Kelli and JC and Charlie are going to Steamboat Springs for the weekend to play in the snow as they do every year. I bet it’s been really cold in Denton! πŸ™‚


  9. Oh my! How often are you subject to this affliction? Things will recover … won’t they? The handsome Gargoyle steals the show. Hang in there and keep warm. D


    • Yes, the plants will be fine. The Elephant Ears usually die in the winter and come back in the spring anyway, but they haven’t actually died even in the freeze this time. The palms are fine except for frost burn on some of the fronds. I will lose the treasured lower fronds, but they’re several years old. Romero will be very happy to cut them off since he has to crouch to mow the grass underneath them. We get frost and short freezes often, but if the temperature doesn’t stay low for a long time, the established plants are okay. Glad you liked the Gargoyle! πŸ™‚


    • Yes, the plants will be fine. The frost-bitten leaves will have to be pruned, but nothing will die. The ice actually protected them from further damage after the frost chewed on them! πŸ™‚ I was almost as frozen as the leaves while I tried to photograph the ice storm. I panicked when I saw the ice! But, I remembered how the citrus farmers in the Valley turn on the sprinkler systems when it freezes down there. Ice forms from the sprinkler water and protects the trees. Thank you, Lisa. I’m glad you liked the photographs.


  10. Brings our attention to the agony involved in transplanting living things to an environment that they are unprepared to deal with. Beautiful post, George.


    • Thanks, Shimon. Glad you liked the post. I’ve been reading Marilyn Armstrong’s account of the eight years she spent living in the “old city” part of Jerusalem some forty years ago. Very interesting. Her book is “The Twelve-Foot Teepee” and her blog is “Serendipity”. The memoir is not specifically about Jerusalem, but her description of the differences between life in NYC and Jerusalem is striking. She says Jerusalem today is nothing like it was back then. I would like very much to read your thoughts about the old days in your city. Thanks again!


      • I’m familiar with Marilyn’s blog, Serendipity, and read it on occasion. I have not read her memoir, but she has written a bit about her experiences in Jerusalem on her blog. I find her writing attractive. And she herself seems like a very interesting and charming lady. However, I found her descriptions of Jerusalem quite unreliable, and influenced by a mindset, and perhaps cultural differences which limited her understanding of what was going on then and what is going on now. There were things she wrote which I would agree with. But there was a lot, that I felt she didn’t really understand. It isn’t easy at all for a foreigner to realize how to take advantage of what this city has to offer, especially when he or she continues to operate in the bubble of a subculture. She worked in English, and was surrounded by English speaking people who were in the margins of the society here. I’ve encountered this phenomenon a number of times, and am saddened by the fact that such people miss so much.


        • Thank you very much for the explanation, Shimon. I wondered about that as I read the description since I never heard anyone else talk about their experiences in Jerusalem in the same way. And, it certainly was at odds with your picture of the city.


    • Thank you, Carissa. Coming from you, that’s high praise, indeed! I have admired your B&W images for a long time. I thought I’d try my hand at black and white since the ice on the plants really did look black in the light. We’ve had our first killing frost and freeze in several years now. I hope the garden survives. πŸ™‚


  11. Beautiful photos and words to go with them. We are having a similar tragedy with our gardens here in Oz. except ours is from the unusual heat here in Melbourne. The City street looks like autumn as the leaves cannot cope and are falling. Every plant has burnt leaves…we are opposite of course and waiting for autumn so they can recover.


    • Thank you, RR. I hate to see tree leaves withering from drought. We lost trees here a couple of summers back. I hope it rains for you soon! Thanks for stopping by to visit!


    • Thank you, Naomi! The ice was a shock to me and to the tropical plants too! Actually, the ice protected the leaves from the freezing temperatures. It was the hard frost that damaged the garden. Spring will come and we will recover… πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping in to visit, Naomi!



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