Ice Embryos: Where Snowmen are Born

Beautiful Winter Photography / Digital Photo / Fred First / Floyd County, Virginia
It was no secret that she was as much interested in getting the husband out for a walk as in getting the photographer to the scene of a potential winter image. The physical investment would no doubt be greater than the photographic reward: her sighting of “weird” ice formations happened to be at the base of Ann’s Falls–a “trail” supplemented in two places with ropes to make it under the best of conditions both possible and somewhat safe.

Covered by an inch of sleet, my Muck Boots might as well have been snowboards–a fact that became more evident on our way DOWN this same trail after snagging a few shots.

But she was right: these were odd little hummocks of clarified ice, more or less regularly spaced in the splash zone of our little hidden waterfall.

Two years ago (or was it three?) she discovered the falls and “improved” the trail to them. It is still a special place. But I’ll be darned, it’s a sure thing that if she hadn’t drug me up there under the pretense of a potential photograph, I’d have been content to let this snowman nursery come and go unseen.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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