In mid-December, I visited a friend in Aachen, who drove me across the now non-existent border between Germany and Belgium (how remarkable and wonderful – let’s just trash all borders, everywhere, their only purpose is maintaining inequality), to walk in those low mountains, what the Belgians call the Ardennes and the Germans, the Eifel. It was extraordinarily cold — minus 13 — particularly for a South African from Cape Town where winter temperatures rarely drop below five degrees. But it was a beautiful day, despite the temperatures, and made all the more remarkable by the constant presence of tiny ice crystals in the air, catching the sunlight. This was, research reveals, ‘diamond dust’. The name captures the phenomenon, and is the last poetry in the Wikipedia entry which goes on to describe it as
a ground-level cloud composed of tiny ice crystals [which] generally forms under otherwise clear or nearly clear skies, so it is sometimes referred to as clear-sky precipitation. It is most commonly observed in Antarctica and the Arctic, but it can occur anywhere with a temperature well below freezing.
I feel very fortunate to have seen it.