It was bitterly cold outside, but ever so warm under the covers. I was in absolutely no rush to get out of bed, but as the sun rose up over the crvalley and its bright light began to stream in through the cabin’s windows, I knew that I could procrastinate no longer.

My first order of business was to switch out the dogs. The two females do not get along, so they take turns staying in their outside runs, but do not worry. They have beautiful houses, built by Greg, that we keep filled with fresh, clean straw. They bed down quite comfortably, even in the coldest weather, and often, given the chance, happily stay in their houses rather than come outside to join us.

I stepped out onto the front porch, one female by my side, a bowl of her breakfast in my hand. I slid on my wooden shoes and stepped out from under the porch roof onto the side deck. My dog stayed right by my side, but as soon as I was out in the sunshine, I had to stop.

My dog looked up at me impatiently. She was apparently hungry and ready to rearrange the straw in her house, but I was intrigued by what greeted my eyes on the side deck.

I walked slowly around the deck, stopping here and there, and looking with amazement at my ordinary deck decorations that on this morning did not look so ordinary.

The special rocks I have brought back from creek walks, my outside marbles, our benches and the picnic tables were all covered with the most gigantic frost flakes I have ever seen. Some of the ice flakes were almost as large as my fingernails.

I looked over at the dog runs. The captive female was sitting patiently by her door, ready to bound out into the day.

The other female sat expectantly by her gate, ready for her breakfast. I stepped across the frosted grass and let my hungry dog inside her pen, placing her bowl of food on the straw-covered ground. She immediately set to eating as I latched the gate behind her. I let the other dog out and watched her bound across the upper field.

I knew that I needed to give fresh, unfrozen water to the breakfast-eating dog, but just as soon as I had her watered, I returned to the cabin’s deck.

I stood and watched the frost crystals in the bright morning sunlight. They shimmered with silver beauty, transforming my rock collection into things that looked like underwater sea urchins or sponges.

The morning air was certainly cold, barely into the double digits, but as I stood still watching, I felt the sun warming my cheeks.

There was no breeze at all. The air was perfectly still. I held my hand out to one of the largest crystals. Before I even touched it, I noticed that it was starting to shimmer and melt. At first, I thought that it was the warmth of my hand, but as I stood in the morning sunshine and looked out across the crystal-covered deck, I realized that they were all beginning to shimmer and melt. The magic of the morning moment was quickly fading in the bright sunshine.

We have lived in the creek valley for 14 years now. Sometimes it feels as though we have always lived here and it is hard to imagine ever having lived anywhere else, but this morning I felt as though I had just arrived. I was amazed to discover the silver beauty of the frost crystals.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at