Monday, 25 January 2021

It's a 'Jack Frost' January Morning.....

....the skies are blue, the sun is shining , it looks as if it will be a lovely day, but who was Jack Frost? 

It is believed that he originated within Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon traditions. In one story, he is the son of Kari, Norse god of the winds. In Finnish folklore, there is a legend about a Frost-man and a Frost-woman, who control the weather and keep the conditions good for their reindeer. In many cultures around the world, it is common to personify the seasons and the weather. In Japanese folklore, there are stories of a Frost Man and his brother, Mist Man, who are keepers of frost and dew. 

As for the name Jack Frost, there isn't much reasoning as to why his name has come to be Jack, other than "Jack" was a common slang word for "man" in England during the 16th and 17th centuries - Jack the lad, Jack of all trades, Jack o'Lantern, Jack o' the Green.

My mother always said a good cold winter was necessary to kill off all the bugs and germs. However, of late, that appears to have been proven to be totally untrue. This wretched virus seems to relish the cold rather than the heat.


Jack Frost illustration by Arthur Rackham


Our much loved diminutive snowdrops, those first harbingers of Spring, have now pushed their dainty heads above the ground.

Deep sleeps the Winter,
Cold, wet and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! the world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!
poem & illustration by Cicely Mary Barker 
It looks as if a small creature has been dining out on my snowdrops. However, I can't begrudge the odd petal to whoever ate them. They must need all of the nourishment that they can find at this time of year. 

48 comments:

  1. Jack Frost has arrived here to this night, but at least he took some sunshine with him. Love this cold better than all the rains we had last days.

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  2. I haven't seen the fairy fern patterns on windows for years, and we don't even have central heating.

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    1. I noticed that in Cicely Mary Barker's poem snowdrops are 'The Fair Maids of February' but mine have been flowering since the first week in January, so they must be much earlier now than in her day.

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  3. Wow, Rosemary - the hoar frost on the plants is so beautiful! And you have already snowdrops!
    It is Cicely Mary Barker, the snow fairy?
    In Germany we call Jack Frost "Väterchen Frost" - a minimisation of "Father", less grim - and frost: Father Frost.

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    1. Oh, sorry - overlooked that you quoted CMB.
      Here we have leaden sky, no sun, cold wind, no snow... (son in Bavaria has sun and snow).

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    2. I hate leaden skies without sun, but I think that we actually appreciate our good days far more because of the bad days.

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  4. I actually did business with a guy years ago named Jack Frost. His first name was John, but he always used Jack. I envy you the Snowdrops, Rosemary - what an encouraging sign! It will be mid March here before any green shoots start to poke above the ground - at the earliest. Still, we are almost at the end of January and the days are noticeably lengthening. Spring indeed is on its way.

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    1. I think that at this time of year, all of us are desperate for some sunshine and those telltale signs of Spring.

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  5. Jack Frost is a car dealer from near Cambridge. The other one was here with a vengeance overnight, I almost fell over on the ice in my back yard and then found the bolt on the back gate was frozen solid!

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    1. Take care John - you definitely don't want to end up having to go to hospital currently. I was out this morning and it was very slippery under foot, so I turned sharply round and returned quickly home.

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  6. I remember learning about Jack Frost from my mother when I was a wee tot. Jack Frost drew the frost patterns on our windows in the wintertime apparently.

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    1. I used to love those frosty fern patterns on the windows, but glad our homes are now too warm to have them any more.

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  7. Dear Rosemary,
    I love this post. It's so nice to see your pretty garden and those lovely snowdrops.
    Be careful what you wish for. We've had nothing but blue skies and sunshine...for over 8 months. For several days now the weatherman has told us about a major snow storm coming our way. We will see.

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    1. Dear Gina - I remember that you always used to show us winter pictures of deep, deep snow, but perhaps you area is now becoming warmer too.

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  8. Hello Rosemary, No frost lately for me, but in Cleveland we had plenty of frosty mornings--always dangerous both for planting and harvesting. Seeing your frosted plants somehow reminded me of Jack Frost sugar and sugar cubes, but I believe that brand turned into the Domino sugar we have now.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - We don't get many frosty days, but I like them, as usually they turn into lovely, bright, sunny days.

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  9. Hello Rosemary, We had frost a couple of mornings this past week, but it's been such a mild winter this year. Our snowdrops are up and blooming and such a welcome sight. Your history about the possible origins of Jack Frost was interesting to read.

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    1. Our weather patterns certainly seem to be changing, but I do enjoy looking out of the windows onto a crisp and frosty morning.

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  10. Beautiful photos - your garden is gorgeous in all weather and seasons!
    Snowdrops so pretty - none around here yet but bluebell leaves are pushing up.
    Rainy day after a sunny cold weekend - can't complain. Perhaps a snow shower come Thurs., would love a little to take snowy bird pix!
    Stay warm - Mary

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    1. The snowdrops are always enjoyable to see, and they remind me that Spring is once again in her ascendency.
      I hope that you manage to get your snowy bird photos, your birds are always so beautifully captured.

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  11. Dearest Rosemary,
    What lovely Snowdrops photos you share with your readers!
    They are indeed the forebodes of spring.
    No idea where Jack Frost originated from... so many old stories we go by.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - the first snowdrops of the season are always a delight, and foretell of better things yet to come.

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  12. Lovely photos. I love snowdrops but we don't have them. 29 degrees c. Forecast today and 30 tomorrow. A bit too hot for my liking.

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    1. You don't have snowdrops, but you do have other delightful flowers that we don't have here.

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  13. Glorious sunshine makes up for the cold! How sweet of you not begrudge that critter for chewing on your blossoms. Adore the poem. Hard to believe but my mother had a female cousin named Jack Frost. Jack changed her name to Jacqueline after her parents died.

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    1. I can well understand why she change her name from Jack. Surely Jack is not a girls name - Jacqueline is a far better female name.

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  14. The touches of frost are a beautiful sight to see.

    Here we're in snow and a deep cold.

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    1. At least you know how to wrap up warm in Canada and keep yourselves cosy if you need to venture out of doors.

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  15. Lovely images, Rosemary! And the snowdrops are exquisite. Boiling hot here, which I dare say you're not surprised to hear. It was only on a smattering of occasions that I saw frost growing up, but it was terribly exciting to see what I knew full well from all the tales and rhymes that were part of my world. You may laugh but it was quite unremarkable to hang paper snowflakes in the window as part of the Xmas decorations to be admired as you loll about in summer clothes - there was even a product in an aerosol can to spray frost onto glass!

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    1. I enjoyed your childhood recollections. As a child, I found it difficult to realise that some people e.g those on the other side of the world, were actually enjoying Christmas Day on a beach.
      p.s. I have located the book, and it is now on its way - thank you for the introduction.

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  16. Nice origin history. I'm exploring the world by TV crime dramas at the moment of which there is a good variety. Watched the Valhalla Murders earlier,(Iceland) Spiral (France) Traces (Dundee) The Bay (English seaside) and just started watching All Our Sins (Finland). I might be confined to local walks but I'm still enjoying exotic cultures and its always good in the UK to see winters bleaker and much colder than ours. Cheers me up!

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    1. We are also exploring that same world Bob, and enjoying it too. We are currently watching Rebecka Martinsson: Arctic Murders. Have only watched the first series of Spiral so plenty more to go as I believe that there are a total of 7 series so far. It is true that Scandinavian winters do appear far bleaker and much colder than ours, but somehow they manage to embrace their weather and accept it far better than we do.

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  17. What beautiful pictures of the Frost, it makes the garden look special. We used to have frost here, but it has been quite a few years now - global warming takes its toll. Your snowdrops are breathtaking, combined with the frost. What a great illustration of Jack Frost by Rackham - he looks quite fierce and dreadful!

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    1. I love to see a frosty morning when the bushes and trees look as if they have been sprinkled with icing sugar.
      I agree, Jack Frost does look rather disagreeable in Rackham's illustration, but at least the children below are enjoying themselves and are totally unaware of his presence!

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  18. Hello, Rosemary. Snowdrops, already? Does it mean warm winter? La Nina was supposed to bring much colder winter, but actually too cold spell and too warm have repeated alternately here. COVID is the strongest in cold and dry air, but different from other cold viruses, they thrive in summer with less power. Your frosted garden is beautiful. I like to know the story behind the name of personification of something. Jack Frost is equivalent to “fuyu shogun” meaning General Winter or General Frost. The frigid air mass from Siberia is called Winter General since it defeated General Napoleon, and Natis Germany, as well. Take care.

    Yoko

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    1. Hello Yoko - our first Snowdrops usual arrive in early January, but they continue to appear for several weeks and are still appearing well into February
      I was interested to learn about “fuyu shogun” - thank you.
      Do hope that you are well, and taking care.

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  19. Your snowdrops look beautiful Rosemary.
    Jack Frost - interesting as I've never thought about how Jack Frost's name came about.
    Doing recall my mother saying the same and it seemed that hanging the cloth nappies on the line made them whiter for some reason.
    Take care.

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    1. I remember an old Scottish midwife calling on me when my eldest son was a new baby and she told me to lay the cloth nappies onto the grass to make them whiter - I suspect that it was an old wives tale, but maybe the grass gives off chlorophyl.

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  20. your snowdrops are early, none around here yet, I do love them and also Arthur Rackham's artwork. I remember being told too that we needed a cold Winter to kill the bugs off and also that a good frost breaks the ground for gardners.

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    1. I think that it is possible that the bugs tale may now be a non starter.
      I suspect that if you poke around your garden that you might just find some snowdrops lurking there. My hellebores are also covered in buds that are almost ready to open.

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  21. I love when snowdrops appear , makes me believe that Spring is just around the corner , even though it isn't so LOL.

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    1. I feel exactly the same Jane, but we still have to get through February and well into March.

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  22. Good morning dear Rosemary,
    What a lovely story. It is wonderful to see the garden's first flowers of the snowdrops. A bit of frost will be welcome in my little garden too. The photo of the tree in the wintersun is gorgeous.
    Have a wonderful day
    Rosehugs Marijke

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    1. Hello Marijke - the gardens are very slowly coming back to life, roll on the warmer, better weather.
      Hope you are well.

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  23. Never knew that "Jack" was a common slang word for man.

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