We’ve certainly had some cold and frosty mornings recently haven’t we. Now we all know that frost is created by Jack while we’re asleep. Armed with a paintbrush and glitter he works quickly, covering everything he can, so that in the morning we’re greeted with a spectacular winter wonderland scene. He doesn’t miss a detail – spider webs look magical in the sunlight and leaves glisten as though sugar coated. Jack’s glitter makes every surface sparkle. He even has time to paint beautiful patterns – he must work fast – do you think he has helpers?
Jack has a reputation for being mischievous. I wonder if he hides, waiting to see our reaction when we open the curtains and see his beautiful work or encounter some of his less endearing contributions. I hope he’s not sniggering when he nips at my fingers and toes until they hurt. Also, I could do without his habit of coating my car window, to the extent that clearing it, takes a lot of frantic de-icer spraying and frenzied scraping. He seems to know I’ll have neglected to carry out this task in good time, and will inevitably end up being late for something.
Now some misguided people say that Jack Frost doesn’t exist. They say that frost is a natural phenomenon, occurring when freezing surface temperature meets water vapour. Even worse, these people dismiss Jack’s artistic talents, saying that ice crystals naturally form the beautiful patterns we see.
Anyway, back to reality. Jack is so clever, he doesn’t just make one type of frost – he makes several, including rime frost, hoar frost and fern frost. Rime frost is the sort that makes leaves look sugar coated – ‘rime’ means crust, which doesn’t sound quite as appealing to me as sugar coated. Hoar frost looks like little spikes. ‘Hoar’ comes from the old English word “hoary,” which means getting on in age. Some liken the appearance of hoar frost to an old man’s beard. Fern Frost appears on windows when Jack sneaks indoors – he certainly visited our house when I was small. Those boring old doubters say it happens when the air outside is very cold and there’s moisture on the inside.
I wish I could see Jack at work. He’s often depicted as an old man with a beard – similar to the Old Man of Winter, but I’ve always thought of him as a male version of Tinkerbell, only bluer on account of the cold. In my mind I see an elfin figure, darting around my garden and the wider landscape, making it a sight to behold.