frost hollow

Topographic depressions susceptible to frequent, even unseasonable, frosts while the temperature of surrounding hillslopes remains above freezing are called frost hollows. Air, as it loses heat by terrestrial radiation at night, becomes more dense. Draining downhill by the force of gravity in a katabatic flow, this cold dense air can accumulate in frost or pocket hollows. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fanciful sketch “A Visit to the Clerk of Weather” (uncollected by the author in his lifetime for good reason), a Mr. John Frost is described by the fetching maiden Spring as “that misshapen wretch . . . that soulless withering demon” forever intent on delaying her arrival. She promises, however, to appear early in the coming year, for “Mr. Frost is obliging to take a journey to the North to find a polar bear for his wife, who has lingered amongst you with her husband so long that she affects some of your customs, and must have a substitute for a lap-dog.”

Joy Williams