Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Ice Pan Cometh

Well, it’s been a wild ride here this winter. Wild as in wildly swinging temperatures and lots of precip, very little of it snow. “She’s some slippy eh?”. You could luge from the house to the car. Last weekend we set out for a nice country dog walk. It ended abruptly 10 feet from the car.

"slippy" b.t.w., is maritime speak for "slippery"

By the ocean, when rapidly dropping temperature occur during relatively calm seas and an outgoing tide, a very unusual and lovely ice forms:

This is called “frazil” ice. It is an accumulation of thin layers of freshwater crystals, the beginning phase of sea ice. I could explicate with some heavy-duty physics the mechanics of how this ice ends up not salty. I am primarily taken with it’s beauty. That, and the fact that it makes me think of frozen Margaritas. Admit it, you thought so too.

Sea ice also manifests in sugary forms.
These ice-topped intertidal rocks remind one of iced buns. They are covered with "glaze ice”.

 That slushy, pre-consolidated sea ice often found at the shore is called “shuga”. Which makes me think of The Archies. Which makes me think I have too much working memory taken up with bad pop music. Oh shuga shuga. You are my candy girl.


So, we found ourselves short on ice for our traditional Friday night Tiki Cocktail and thought, well, what the heck. When life gives you frazil, make Aurora Bora Bora Borealis cocktails!


proof of ice provenance


We tried one and it was delish! The ice melts very slowly and is not salty due to the brine rejection effect during freezing. This video of the formation of a "brinicle" shows the process. It's like an underwater tornado. This may be one of the most amazing non-CGI ocean phenomena EVER. Unless you are a starfish. Just take a look:

While in the process of researching for this blog we had the most awesome ice spectacle you can ever experience here in the north atlantic - drift ice.

You may fall asleep to a seascape like this:

And awaken to this:

We have not had drift ice come into our bay for 3 or so years. Here it is a rather counter-intuitive sign of spring.
 It makes the most lulling 'shushhh shushhh shushhh' sound as it laps onto the beach.

It's the shushhhing of spring here in Cape Breton.

Happy almost spring to you wherever you are.


  1. Beautiful! Katherine, if rather sad for starfish. Thank you for the lovely distraction, I teetered on the brink of nearly being productive. Whew, close call

  2. Some of that shore ice would be called ballycadder here. Remember the time we picked ice enclosed fronds of rckweed to stir our Bloody Caesars?

  3. Another excellente poste, Katerina Dear. Keep up the good work, etc. etc. Love the shoreline ice and the cocktail creativity.