Sunday, February 17, 2008

Frost attack

I publish these photos in the full knowledge that I'll be frivolously wasting the time of anyone who unwisely spends his time on them. However, there may be a great lesson to be learned concerning chance, rarity and making the most of both.

The photo below shows a hedge on a nearby road. The white stuff is ice.

I should add that the temperature has not got much above zero for the last couple of days. In fact, we can't use our washing machine because the pipes are frozen (this bit is not part of the lesson, by the way, and is only here because I'm annoyed about it). I sense that you are afire with curiosity as to how this extraordinary phenomenon has come about. I do like to satisfy people's urges, so here you are.

On the road at this point, there is a manhole cover that has sunk slightly under the level of the road. Water has gathered, but melted due to the cars that pass over it. The cars splash the water onto the hedge, where it freezes and remains to amuse those with idle minds. (All right. To be precise, it does not freeze and remain with the purpose of amusing me; that is merely an effect, though I'm sure there's a metaphysical argument to be made ... No, let's leave it there, on the hedge, as it were.)

The lesson. First of all, chance. While I admit that the phenomenon in itself is a result of certain physical laws in operation (including the one about British workmanship on the roads), chance enters in the shape of my wife passing along that road at the right moment to see it and so be able to tell me about it.

Secondly, rarity. It's not often so cold here as to permit the above-mentioned physical laws to come into operation (though the one about British workmanship is a constant from which there seems no escape). Thus we hardly ever see such things. Thus they are special when they occur.

Thirdly, making the most of it. It is a little thing. But I enjoyed walking to the spot, trying to get a good photo, seeing the drivers that passed look at me as if I were an idiot, and finally writing this idiotic post. It has given pleasure and added something to the place in which I live.

There. That's it.


Riri said...

You did the right thing to post about it mate. Couldn't have made a better decision me self really! When I first saw the first pic, I thought somebody dumped some sardines near your house.

I think a lot of research could be done on this phenomenon, for example it would be interesting to devise an equation that relates the dimensions of the ice formed to the speed of the passing cars. In a detective drama like Columbo, this is the type of trick he'd use to nail the almost-perfect murder on the murdrer.

So some shallow people might think that this post is idiotic and not give it the due attention it deserves, but that is exactly the reaction of those same people to a clever chap like Lieutenant Columbo! And let us not forget that he always manages to have the last word.

Riri said...

Just remembered something, Columbo always gives credit to his wife for putting him on the right path.

I think there may well be a deeply metaphysical explanation here. Too many coincidences.

NoolaBeulah said...

The icicles were lovely this morning, thick wrinkly fingers pulling down the branches. Couldn't get a photo because bloody daughter wanted to get dawn shots of Alderley Edge (local beauty spot) and so took the camera. I'll see what it's like tomorrow.

Colombo! Is that a crack at my age?