Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sideways icicles

with 18 comments


A first glance at this picture might make you think I accidentally rotated it 90° to the right. Not so. Check the icicles’ tips and you’ll see the drops of meltwater there are hanging downward. Here’s what happened: the small icicles that had formed normally on tree branches ended up horizontal (or even pointing upward somewhat) after the tree fell over. I’d have thought the force of the impact would knock the icicles off, yet many survived intact. The location was our back yard; the date was February 2nd, coincidentally the second of our three days without electricity and heat—but not without nature photographs.



§        §        §



During the pandemic I called your attention to two programs that the American government put in place to give money to restaurant owners and farmers. The problem was that white people were either barred outright from applying or were put at the bottom of the list of applicants. Naturally white restaurant owners and white farmers pointed out that those programs blatantly violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which prohibit discrimination based on race. Judges soon struck down the two programs on those grounds.

Even after those two rulings, it seems “social justice” bureaucrats have no qualms about violating civil rights laws. The most recent example I’ve become aware of is at Florida International University (FIU), where “the Delores Auzenne Fellowship is awarded to minority graduate students who are pursuing graduate degrees in disciplines where minorities are underrepresented.” I’ve put the word minority in italics to point out that “white students need not apply” to receive this fellowship at a public, taxpayer-funded university.

No doubt an FIU student who, but for being white, qualifies for the Deloris Auzenne Fellowship will sue the university. The judge who gets the case will have no choice but to follow the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and to strike down the fellowship’s racist exclusion of white applicants.


© 2023 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2023 at 4:29 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

18 Responses

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  1. What a great variation on the old saw that advises “if life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” In this case, life handed you icicles, so you made art: presumably the saw showed up shortly after.


    February 8, 2023 at 6:15 AM

    • You’re following in what seems to be becoming a venerable tradition. For instance, check out Jet Eliot’s comment on a post from the ice storm two years ago:

      Ice and Ashe junipers

      I used the lemons-to-ice metaphor myself within the past week, though I can’t remember where. This time that saw [related to saga] was indeed followed by a bunch of the other kind and by a big payment to a tree service.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2023 at 7:10 AM

  2. I’ve seen horizontal icicles near Niagara Falls, where spray carried by air currents coats the railings and lampposts.
    It seems like we’re seeing the expression “If things go sideways…” more than “If things go south…”
    I guess it makes sense that a similar expression “If this backfires…” might become less and less common since cars have fuel injectors instead of carburetors, although “hangs fire” is still around, and that goes back to the days of flintlock muskets. And “flames out” is still in use, but “If the lithium-ion battery bursts into flames…” just isn’t as catchy.
    Well this comment has wandered a bit, but it was thinking about sideways icicles that kind of broke the ice.

    Robert Parker

    February 8, 2023 at 8:39 AM

    • You know I’ll never object to breaking the ice and delving into language. Based on recent incidents, people near shootings now seem likely to say they thought they were hearing firecrackers, which are still a part of our lives, rather than backfiring cars, which, as you point out, aren’t. The recent uptick in people referring to things as “going sideways” has puzzled me. I was thinking about it just the other day. I don’t understand why that’s replacing “going south,” which relies on the longstanding connotation of south being negative and therefore bad. “Sideways” strikes me as neutral.

      We’ll see whether the colonial-era “hang fire” will end up having hung around longer than the later allusion to cars backfiring. It doesn’t seem so, based on Google’s Ngram viewer:


      I don’t think I’ve ever seen horizontal icicles formed under the influence of air currents. If you have a picture, perhaps you’ll include it in an upcoming post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2023 at 9:29 AM

      • I’ll take a look. I remember our coats crackling as ice formed on them and a strong desire to find someplace with hot coffee, so don’t know if I stopped to take any shots. I posted pictures of ice near the falls in 2017 but pretty sure I’m thinking of a different visit.

        Walks Around Upstate New York (and Upper Canada). December. Niagara Falls.

        Robert Parker

        February 8, 2023 at 9:55 AM

        • It was fun to see those two pareidolic faces again, along with the gorgeous winter landscapes. If you find you didn’t capture horizontal icicles at Niagara Falls, it’s a good incentive to go back. Winter is still with us.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 8, 2023 at 10:05 AM

  3. Now that the icicles have been put into a horizontal position, they will break off more quickly when the temperature increases.

    Peter Klopp

    February 8, 2023 at 9:06 AM

    • I believe so. I stayed outside taking pictures for a good while, though not long enough to see those icicles fall off the branch they were on.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2023 at 9:31 AM

  4. Sideways icicles are a rare catch and a treat! Yes, they break off more quickly now.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 8, 2023 at 7:20 PM

    • This may be the only time I’ve ever seen sideways icicles. No way was I not going to photograph them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2023 at 11:11 PM

  5. I’ve of course seen many frozen rain coated branches and twigs but can’t recall any going sideways. Nice find.

    Steve Gingold

    February 9, 2023 at 2:59 AM

  6. Interesting these ice formations around the branches. It never gets this voos here in The Valley, but i have seen it it up in the mountains.

    Alessandra Chaves

    February 9, 2023 at 9:23 AM

  7. I’m enjoying the reactions as well as the picture. Trying to think of a suitable contribution produces ‘gang agley'(Scots), which I imagine you are aware translates as ‘go adrift’ but is more literally ‘go askew’. (Though we’d be more likely to say squint rather than askew.) These are a bit more than just askew, though!

    Ann Mackay

    February 12, 2023 at 4:50 AM

    • I appreciate your searching for a suitable contribution. I’m familiar with “gang agley” from Robert Burns’s “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” I remember that we read the poem in high school English class. The teacher, unfamiliar with agley, mistakenly pronounced it with the stress on the first syllable, which messed by the rhythm of the verse. In this matter my memory has not gone at all askew.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 12, 2023 at 6:55 AM

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