The ice storm cometh

Story and photos by Derek Doeffinger

It was predicted and it arrived last night in the northern Finger Lakes. And it was welcomed. As long as it was pretty and behaved. So far it has been.


The shortage of exciting and breathtaking winter weather this year has somewhat surprisingly been a bit depressing. But a mild ice storm offers a lot of close-up scenic views. Not quite the breathtaking landscape views of a fresh sticky snow but drooping branches and rows of icicles, especially in the garden and fields can be attractive. Even a garbage bin sporting a row of dazzling icicles temporarily becomes a work of art.

And it appeals to more than the eye. While typing this, I just heard the crack and crashing of a large branch in my backyard. It fell off my big, old silver maple and shook the power lines but fortunately didn’t take them down. It’s behaving.


Shortly after I stepped outside with my camera, I heard another crack and looked up to see a large limb crashing down in my neighbor’s back yard. Again, no damage.

I gingerly stepped and slid through the garden, enjoying the hard crust of ice crunching and crackling underfoot. That, too, is a surprisingly pleasurable sensation.



Old seedpods and fresh buds drawn out by warm weather were encased in the ice. And the few leaves left on the deer-stripped rhododendron dangled icicles. When I tried to edge a twig or small branch aside for a better picture angle, it often broke and dangled, made brittle by the ice. I can’t spend too much more time writing because you never know when the ice will melt or the winds will shake it loose.

But before I head out again, keep in mind the night skies. If it stays cold and clears up a bit there might be a chance to see Jupiter and Venus converging in the skies over ice adorned trees topped by the moon. Now that’s a convergence that would make winter worthwhile.


Derek Doeffinger spent a few decades at Kodak explaining how people can take better pictures and then encouraging them to use Kodak products — especially digital cameras. That last part didn’t quite work out. Fortunately during his Kodak days he became an obsessed outdoor photographer, especially of Finger Lakes waterfalls. He’s written several photos books about the Finger Lakes and digital photography, and now has written quite a few articles for Life in the Finger Lakes.


  • Judith M Snyder says:

    This story just explained how I feel. Thankfully, one branch off a willow tree in the pasture. I’m not a winter outdoor enthusiast, but appreciate the beauty of it. This is the first winter after retirement that I haven’t driven in it much. But – that’s just upstate New York.
    It hasn’t been a pretty winter – but wouldn’t give up my seasons for anything.,
    Thank you for the pretty pictures.

  • Judy Butterfield says:

    I am no longer in NY for the winters, but if I were, I would be right there with you in finding this to be a disappointing winter. I always loved the big snowstorms and the excitement that they caused in me and to some extent the rest of the area folks as well. Thanks for sharing a perspective on winter that anyone should be able to find beauty in!! (and letting me find someone else in the world who likes a good snowy winter!)

  • Moe Young says:

    I received a picture of the moon and Venus and Jupiter from my friend Brian Stickney in St Petersburg. I will send it because it is amazing❗️❗️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *