Jan 26, 2013

Of micro-scale scratches and corrugated surfaces

I pulled back the window curtains of my 6 year old's bedroom, intending to let the dawn peek in and help wake him up. This is what i saw:
6 am descends on window graffiti of the night.
Swirls and curls of cold intent, pick an evanescent fight.
Molten rays of sun enact a predetermined end.
Fractals fade away gracefully, power successfully spent.

Of course, I posted up on Facebook - with fittingly cloying pseudo-poetry (see above and accept my pre-emptive apologies). Amidst all the wonderment on my comment thread was an illuminating response to my query about  the possible driving forces behind the curious crystal growth pattern. Bindu, a scientist freind, wrote "Ice crystal growth patterns [are] seeded by corrugated surface (tiny microscale scratches on glass) and dust."

Imagine that.

I've no doubt our century old house has weathered a lot more than it's austere colonial facade reveals. Yet I'd never really thought about it beyond seasonal annoyance at windows that stick and floors that creak with extreme temperature changes. New England weather has exhausted it's repertoire on us during our long residence in these parts. Even a tornado once, to keep it fresh. So it was easy to populate my daydreams with vivid images of a hundred years of howling Noreasters pounding on this large, wavy sheet of glass. This thing that keeps the predatory elements out of our fragile little lives.

But I had never considered the invisible signs of strain. We look through it. Literally. As we are meant to. The faint battle scars that tell the story of a long, hard existence had eluded me with stunning success until this sub-freezing January morning.

And this is the story they told:

A bristling forest of ice calls out to denuded trees below,
Your lifeblood crawls in dormancy as I inexorably grow.
The golden light that succours you, will bring to me my end.
But what a dazzling time I had. I'm ready now, my freind.

I'll never be able to just look through this sheet of glass again.

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