I found these curious frozen puddles in the parking lot of the Rocky Hill section of the Delaware & Raritan Canal towpath last weekend. Earlier last week we had some rain and warm temperatures but the temperatures rapidly plummeted over the next few days. This puddle’s diameter was just under a meter.
Even though some sections of the puddle appeared white, the ice wasn’t completely frozen. I could see the middle section of the puddle.
The shallowness of this puddle suggests that it rapidly froze; only a thin water layer remained below the puddle. Then the fast-falling temperatures likely caused the ice to contract, which produced the cracking. Continued cooling widened the cracks. The ring pattern shows that the main direction of the stress force was radial, but the scalloped pattern along the rings shows that some stress varied with angle around the center. The small amount of water that didn’t freeze rose into the cracks due to the hydrostatic pressure of the ice above and capillary action. Water in the rings then froze and expanded, and as it did it widened the rings and also directed the remaining small amount of liquid to the top of the ice. The slight bulges on the bottom of the rings were remnants of its last contact with the deepest water. In other words, the unfrozen water at the bottom of the puddle was, in essence, pushed and suctioned into the cracks.
I didn’t know that at the time I saw the puddles but I was fascinated by the shapes.
Last weekend I walked through Van Horne Park looking for interesting things to photograph. I normally visit the park in the spring and summer when the air is sweet with the scent of flowers and aroma of backyard grilling. I thought that perhaps it would be different in the winter. It is.
Van Horne Park spans Rocky Hill and Montgomery Township and features walking trails, baseball and soccer fields, and two large climbing structures for children. The park is accessible from Route 1 via the Princeton North Shopping Center. I chose to enter via the gate on Princeton Avenue.
Stepping from the car, a harsh cold wind blew mercilessly against my face. I could feel it penetrate my long wool coat. I stopped to photograph the grasses and brush.
Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress., Charles Dickens
When the cold was too severe, I walked around the pathway hoping that the movement would warm me. Along the path, I saw a sign that the park was not maintained over the winter and that I should use at my own risk. I could see the wind agitate the top of water puddles. I turned my back on the wind and captured some images of the farmhouse in the distance.
When I had had enough, I briskly walked back to my car. It was time to go home to the gentle warm caress of my fireplace.