Gardeners in Western New York have been preoccupied with calamity over the past few months. A freak snowstorm in October caused serious and widespread damage to the urban and suburban tree canopy, damage we are still assessing and won’t know the true extent of until the spring of 2008.
Recently, however, eyes have been turned toward the trees once more, this time in uncomplicated wonder and delight at their glistening coating of ice. Even the rattiest shrub that ever graced the front yard of a vinyl-sided suburban bungalow looks like abstract sculpture spun out of diamond filament. The now waning phenomenon has reinforced civic resolve to restore the urban forest—by emphasizing its importance in all seasons.
To the north, our Canadian neighbors also celebrate miracles wrought by ice.
This time, it’s grapes that have been encased in ice while still on the vine, with the concentrated results bottled into a pricey golden nectar. I was up there last weekend at the annual Niagara Icewine Festival. Icewine martinis, anyone?
Over the past month or so, the wineries were afraid their grapes would never reach the necessary temperature (-8 degrees C) for the next vintage. Finally, though, the ice cameth. In the meantime, I’ve got some 2005 bottles stashed away that I’ll be enjoying until after the spring thaw.
(Icewine grapes photo courtesy of the Niagara Icewine Festival. First frozen branch photo by Alan Bigelow.)
P.S. Since this was written, the ice has largely given way to normal winter conditions, i.e., snow, snow, baby.