Rare “Lily Pad” Ice Forms on the Cannon River


“Leslie, we’re walking the dogs by the dam, and there is the most incredible thing–lily pads of ice floating at the base of the waterfall. We’ve never seen anything like it. And we thought you might like to get some pictures.”

Ice Three

Today, thanks to an alert from two cold-braving friends, I learned that a rare ice formation was taking shape in the heart of Northfield. (Thanks for the call, Laurie and Julia!) I was able to get down to Bridge Square just before the sunset.

It was 19 degrees Farhenheit, according to the clock at the First National Bank, and only slightly breezy. Most of the Cannon River was iced over and covered again by a light layer of new snow. A small patch of agitated and open water had a new formation swirling on it. As I watched, the “lily pads” rotated very, very slowly–dare I say glacially?–each around its own axis, just at the whole group made a circling motion. I was reminded  even more of the rotating of planets and  the swirling of solar systems through the Milky Way than I was of summer Minnesota lakes covered with lotuses.

Ice One

Naturally, I hurried home to warm my fingers and to do an internet search on this unusual kind of ice. You can read more about the phenomenon from  reporters at National Geographic (They include recent photos of similar formations from last fall on the River Dee in Scotland.) Apparently, it is a rare occurrence this far south (!) in our prairie area, but it is more common in Antarctic and Arctic circles.

Ice Two

Ice SixIce SevenHave you seen this where you are? I wonder what it will look like tomorrow. I am glad for the vivid reminder that each season has its own beauty, its own special colors and shapes.


Until another Wednesday, wishing you well! Leslie