Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dripping icicles

with 23 comments

On February 19th, for the first time ever, many icicles
hung from our rain gutters; some were dripping water.

And here’s a thought for today that reveals a cold, hard truth: “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it.” — George Orwell, 1946, In Front of Your Nose.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 11, 2021 at 4:40 AM

23 Responses

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  1. The first icicle looks like metal. Brrr! I like the quote and looked at the rest of the essay… the next line was good and the last two sentences are even better! 😉


    March 11, 2021 at 4:57 AM

    • Your impression of metal is the same as the first picture gave me. Your reaction to the full quotation is likewise as enthusiastic as mine. Orwell was amazingly prescient about politics and government. I quoted him now because the sudden marked increase in suppression of speech, ideas, books, and even facts in the United States is unlike anything in my lifetime, and it scares me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 5:38 AM

      • Me too!


        March 11, 2021 at 8:57 AM

        • Twentieth-century history made me aware of how quickly some countries descended into totalitarianism—Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, etc.—so you could say I was naive in thinking I’d never live long enough to see our own country devolve the way it has.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 11, 2021 at 9:24 AM

      • History is repeating itself here in Germany. Freedom of speech is a thing of the past. Doctors, professors, lawyers, journalists etc are being defamed and their words are being deleted from social media platforms with no explanation. And now our courts are supporting this development. Yes, I am scared too.


        March 11, 2021 at 1:04 PM

        • Oh, I’m sorry to hear that things are as bad there as here. I’d have hoped that after World War II Germany would have learned its lesson.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 11, 2021 at 4:36 PM

  2. Great shots. Those are some impressive looking icicles. I wouldn’t want to be walk underneath them, especially when they are melting.


    March 11, 2021 at 5:45 AM

    • Some years ago, after I showed a photograph of an icicle on a cliff here, another Canadian warned me about standing underneath. In this case the tips of the icicles were at most only a little over my head and I never felt any danger.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 5:53 AM

    • I should add that icicles don’t often form in Austin, so having bunches of them for a change prompted me to take lots of pictures over several days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 5:56 AM

  3. When I think back to the coming of spring in Iowa, I remember the March thaw as our first sign. Spring didn’t come visually as much as aurally; I still can hear the sound of icicles like these dripping everywhere. Sometimes they’d refreeze, but once the thaw had started, everyone knew the end was near. The icicle in the first photo reminds me of marcasite; it’s really quite beautiful.

    Of course, there are other sorts of slow drips, and Orwell certainly points to those. I noticed this line from the linked piece: “When one is making out one’s weekly budget, two and two invariably make four.” Of course, in Nineteen Eighty-Four two plus two equaling five is part of the plot. Today, Orwell’s right in the middle of the “math is racist (sexist, homophobic, etc.)” conflicts, and ‘two plus two equals five’ has become a meme. I wonder what he’d think. If he read this, he might think he’d been out-dystopianed.


    March 11, 2021 at 7:27 AM

    • I had to look up marcasite to appreciate the resemblance you saw in the first icicle.

      Thanks for the link to that article. To use your phrase, this is just one more example—and I come across them every day now—of Orwell getting out-dystopianed.

      With regard to capitalism, we could say of it what Winston Churchill said of democracy in 1947: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

      Last year I bought a T-shirt saying “Make Orwell Fiction Again” and have been waiting for the weather to warm up so I can wear it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 8:37 AM

  4. Have been enjoying so many of your deep-freeze pix, even though I haven’t commented on them. Intrigued by the upper pic, more so for the “teardrop” than the rest of the icicle, actually. Would it be possible for you to post an enlargement of it so it shows more details of the globular reflection? (Do you know what the reflection is?)


    March 11, 2021 at 8:59 AM

    • Hi, Wanda. It’s good to hear you’ve been sharing my fascination with our recent ice formations. It’s unlikely such a great chance for winter pictures will come to Austin again, so I took full advantage of it. Normally I’d accede to your request for an enlargement of the teardrop, but it was elongating as I took the picture and the shutter speed of 1/500 of a second wasn’t enough to render it sharp. I’m not sure what was reflected in the teardrop: it could’ve been the side of our house.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 9:14 AM

  5. Winter is getting a runny nose with the arrival of warmer weather.

    Peter Klopp

    March 11, 2021 at 9:04 AM

    • That “runny nose” ended by February 21st. Since then we’ve indeed had weather that you’d call spring (and one afternoon even summer, with a temperature of 30°C).

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 9:16 AM

  6. The lighting is perfect. I enjoy those ice closeups!

    Lavinia Ross

    March 11, 2021 at 10:56 AM

    • I agree with you about the lighting, especially in the first picture, which looks like no icicle photograph I recall seeing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 11, 2021 at 4:47 PM

  7. I like the transparency of the first with that nice well defined drop at the end.

    Steve Gingold

    March 13, 2021 at 6:50 AM

    • Timing the shutter release to the split second before the drop detached wasn’t easy. In some pictures the drop came out better defined than in others.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 13, 2021 at 7:14 AM

  8. Now that’s something I have never seen hanging from our gutters either Steve. Great shots


    March 16, 2021 at 1:01 PM

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