The phrase “glass ceiling” as a term for an unexpected see-through obstruction was coined in the mid-1980s, but recent weather events have provided a physical example to explain its meaning. Our changeable temperatures this spring have confused flora and fauna alike, but the fish who inhabit a small pond here must indeed have been puzzled by the recent imposition of what might appear to be, from their point of view, a “glass ceiling”.
As a result of a sudden dip in temperature one night, well below the freezing point, the pond had been covered with a thin coating of ice, about 10 mm in thickness. In the morning, the ice was as clear as glass, almost invisible to the human eye and apparently to the fish as well.
In their usual fashion, as soon as the vibration of footsteps alerted them to the arrival of breakfast, the fish swarmed to the edge of the pond in anticipation. Alas, instead of enjoying a feast of food pellets, they found themselves bumping up against the “glass ceiling”. No matter how hard they tried, the pellets were quite out of reach. Unlike some of the metaphorical ceilings, however, this one was easy to breach. By gently breaking a hole through the ice, and sliding the panes of ice aside, we were able to spread some pellets into the water. Then, having determined that the fish were happy, we glanced around the rest of the pond and noticed that, instead of a smooth glossy surface, the ice on the far side of the pond was etched in lovely patterns.
Near the edge, where the dead leaves of a pond plant had been caught in the freezing water, nature had painted what looked like a series of fronds in the surface of the ice. The delicate patterns lasted only a few hours,however, before they were broken by the sun’s rays.
Despite the variable temperatures, Chester-area gardens have been producing new growth. Forsythia buds are almost open and gardeners are enjoying the blooms forced from branches of forsythia and also Siberian peach that were brought inside. As for the outside plants, Sandy has sent in these photos of flowering Daphne shrubs.
April may be known as the cruelest month but it can’t be any stranger than the roller-coaster temperatures we’ve had in recent months. Spring appears to have arrived, however, and members of the Chester Garden Club are looking forward to getting to work in their gardens, and to preparing for the club’s annual Gardeners Sale in May.