Forms Of Water
( Originally Published 1891 )
"Fill soft and deep, O winter snow,
"WHAT has become of my little pond on the flat rock?" chirped the robin, when the happy band had gathered for a story next morning.
"Yesterday I took a bath in it, and now it is gone. It could not have run out, for it was in a hollow place. Where has it gone ? "
" If you should place a piece of ice on the rock in the warm sunshine," began the brooklet, " it would soon melt and form a pool. Then the water would slowly change to vapor, and spread through the air. We could not see it going, but the rock would in time be dry.
" When dew is on the grass, the sunbeams help it to float away. There is vapor everywhere about us in the air, but we cannot see it till it becomes a cloud or water-dust.
"Beautiful cloudy, forms often float far above us, where it is cold. You can see many there now. Perhaps that pretty fleecy speck just over-head is made in part of your pool that was on the rock, little Redbreast."
" But why does water change to vapor ? " queried Bunny.
" That I cannot answer," mused the brook. " It is not changed by the air, for vapor will form and float about where there is no air. We know that when water is heated it evaporates ; but we do not know why.
" When vapor is chilled it often changes to rain-drops, but no one knows why they form, or why they fall. We can name the forces, but we do not know why they act.
" When many drops have fallen, and the soil is filled, the sun's heat changes some of them back into vapor. This makes the air cooler, for each tiny vapor particle always carries a warm sunbeam prisoner away with it. When the vapor changes again to raindrops, hailstones or snowflakes, it sets the sunbeams free."
"But we often see drops of water on the grass and in the spider-webs, early in the morning, when it has not been raining," said Chip.
" That is true ; and what do you think they are, little chipmonk," asked the brook.
" They may be tiny raindrops that have lost their way in the darkness, and have fallen from the clouds," was Chip's bright answer.
"I think the clouds must weep when the sunbeams leave them alone in the night, for the tear-drops are soon dried when the warm beams return in the morning," said the wild-flower.
"Perhaps," chattered Dick, "the little clouds themselves, weary with flying all day, fold their white wings and come down to sleep in the spiders' silken hammocks, where each passing breeze will swing them nearer to dreamland."
" They may be tiny rainbows, just growing," added Bunny. "I am sure that I have seen all the bright colors in them."
"They are my pretty cousin dewdrops," bubbled the brook. " When vapor floats against cold grass or stones at night, it is changed to dew. The little vapor-wings are chilled by the cold objects, and they have to wait for the warm sun-beams next day before they can fly away.
" One cold morning last autumn the frozen dew looked just like snow in the meadow.
"'The Frost looked forth one still, clear night,
"Then he went to the mountain and powdered its crest ;
—H. F. GOULD.
" 0, you should see Jack Frost in his soft, white furs, skimming about over the hills, and through the vales ; peeping in at the windows, and covering them with silver ferns ; dressing the grass-blades in velvety ice ; hanging ivory lances on the trees ; and sprinkling diamond dust in every nook and corner, where a dewdrop falls asleep.
"He even creeps into the dark soil, and changes the raindrops there into sharp, icy needles. You can often see them, on very cold mornings, bristling like quivers of silver darts out of the gardens, where they cut the hard ground into fine soft soil."
" I saw hundreds of glassy threads on our pond, one day last winter," said Bunny. " Did Jack Frost make them there, also ? "
Yes ; and it is a beautiful sight to see him weaving a warm icy covering over the ponds when winter weather sets in.
" Just before water is cold enough to freeze, it swells and rises to the surface. The ice-coat forms, therefore, at the top instead of on the beds of ponds and streams. If the freezing took place at the bottom, the ponds would become solid blocks of ice ; all the fish would die ; and even the warm summer sun could not melt the frozen mass in deep water.
When the air is very cold and still, you can see sharp needles shoot back and forth over our pond, making a fine network of icy thread. Soon a smooth sheet is woven, which becomes thicker and thicker as long as the cold spell lasts.
" When melting, myriads of stars often appear in the ice, like snowflakes with their six silver rays meeting in points that glisten like dewdrops."
" But all ice is not smooth," said Dick. " What makes the little rough places on the brook and pond? "
" When the wind blows, the waves break the ice-needles, and rub the pieces against each other, so that they freeze in bunches. The ice of rough running streams is almost always covered with nubbles that look like frozen ripples, or tiny ice-waves.
" There are many beautiful sights here in win-ter, but none more charming than our pond with its snow-bound shores. It looks like a strip of bright blue sky set in a frame of fleecy clouds, and hung on the hilly walls of our valley home by a fine brooklet thread."
" I am here every winter," shouted Bunny, joy-fully, "and I see all the pretty snow views. I live in a deep hole on the side of the hill just under the old pine-tree. I dug it there so that the trees and bushes would stop the snowslides, and keep them from burying my burrow under the soil and rocks which they sweep towards the valley.
" The children often go out there to coast or slide. They start on the ridge where the raindrops fell last April. Such sport ! The air fairly rings. with merry shouts, as they spin over the crisp snow, singing their pretty song :
"'Flakes of snow, with sails so white,
"In the clouds, the roomy clouds,
"'And the cargo that you take
"Warmth for all the tender roots,
-E. A. RAND.
" Thank you, Bunny," bubbled the brook, " that is a very pretty song.. Here is another that I heard long ago, when the beautiful snowflakes were sifting down :
"' Out of the bosom of the Air,
"Now, bright friends, you must hasten home, or it will be dark before you find your suppers. Already the twilight is strewing the sun's pathway with roses, and soon the bright flowers will fade in the west.
"Good night ! "
" Good night ! "