Ooh, look at me and my bad self, titling a post with a cliché… 😉 Bear with me. There is some sense in this reckless word-usage – I hope!
I’m fairly certain that the original coiner of that phrase didn’t have a patch of frosty grass in mind when he or she said it. But nonetheless, the phrase, or rather a twisting of it, came to my mind as I looked out over this patch this morning.
What I thought at first, as I opened the curtains, if I may quote my early-morning thoughts, was, ‘ooh, frost. Pretty. How would I describe that?’
Then, as I made tea, I began thinking about it and realised that there are probably at least one thousand words that even something as ordinary as frosty grass could give me.
To begin with, there are the visuals.
From a distance, the frost is white and looks solid. Or lace-like, to be more precise. It coats the grass like many-layered cobwebs, made by dark-loving spiders, whose domain is reduced, inexorably, as the creeping sun opens holes in the web, destroying their night-work and driving them into hiding.
Up close, it is revealed as droplets of water, some easy to see, some so tiny that they could have been dotted on with the pointy end of a pin. All still cold enough to be suspended from many parts of each blade of grass, but already becoming soft, heavy and ready to drop or escape upwards with the touch of the sun.
I think about sound, but already the sun has had so much effect that there is no crunch under my feet as I step off the path to take the picture. Instead, the solid-seeming frost makes the rough grass feel smooth and soft.
Until my feet go numb, which happens while I am still trying to decide if smooth is the right word. Then they start to hurt. The pain is like a burn. I’d like to come up with more words, but the pain is so strong that it muddles my brain and I leap back onto the questionable safety of the cold path, where it subsides into agonising pricks all over the balls of my feet.
I watch my breath make plumes of mist as my feet return to normal and wonder if the frost was strong enough to have damaged anything in the semi-dormant vege garden.
That’s when I discovered this:
On the strawberry leaves, the frost had highlighted the normally invisible tiny hairs and made it look as if mad culinary fairies had been dusting them with icing sugar in the night. Of course, to take this, I had to walk on the freezing grass again and so had another chance to experience just how alike cold and heat can be when it comes to burns.
It was as I retreated inside, swearing lightly at the pain in my feet, that I thought about what it would be like to sleep rough on a night like that. About what you would be willing to do to avoid anywhere damp on a night when you knew that the water on the ground would freeze and bring with it that burn.
I could go on, but I think the point is made – at least it was for me. The simplest of everyday things can be fuel for vivid word-pictures or even whole stories. But it requires me to be willing to do some digging: to suffer the pain to find out what things are REALLY like.
So here’s a challenge. Look out the window (or walk down the street, or look at the cat or dog sleeping on your feet) and tell me…
…what do you see?