From Now On I’m Saying, “Galaverna”.

9 Mar

There are a few things I look forward to in the winter. No, not frigid temps or icy roads (I’m not a masochist) but rather the illusive mornings when we wake up to a world that has been wrapped – twig by twig, needle by needle – in galaverna.

What the heck is “galaverna”?! It’s a much prettier word than “hoarfrost”. I mean, honestly! Who on earth came up with that term? Yes, I know, it’s related to “hoary” as in “laying down your hoary head”…which means you’re white-haired and elderly. But, homonyms aside, it’s still an unattractive word.

There's nothing like a lucky shot.

“Galaverna”, on the other hand, is the Italian term. I learned this from Katy over at “Storytelling Nomad” Katy, yet another of the Australian bloggers I enjoy, took a trip to Europe over the holidays and she learned about galaverna when she woke up to a white world in Italy.

Though I never thought about it before, it appears that neither “galaverna” nor “hoarfrost” are common in Australia, as Katy had never heard of either term. Here in Minnesota, USA, however, hoarfrost (excuse me, “galaverna”) is – while perhaps not exactly common – certainly familiar.

Galaverna is formed when it is foggy and the temperatures are below freezing, but the air is warmer than the stuff outside. The fog settles on each pine needle and blade of grass and freezes there…not in the guise of a twig dipped in water and then frozen, but rather in white flocking, white crystals. It is amazing and gorgeous and magical and almost fake…like white-flocked Christmas trees of days gone by…only real.

Galaverna is not snow. It is an extravagant form of frost on every tiny surface. It brings the unseen to light. It highlights. It wraps. It amazes.

I hope that these pictures do it justice.


19 Responses to “From Now On I’m Saying, “Galaverna”.”

  1. Audrey Kletscher Helbling March 9, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Beautiful, Gretchen, plus a language lesson to boot. You’re getting more comfortable with the camera, aren’t you? I especially like the dreamy shot with the trees beside the driveway. I look forward to seeing more images to enhance your delightful writing.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell March 9, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Thank you – it was a marvelous day to be out with the camera. My husband even said, “Are you taking your camera out?” I’m not sure that the pictures do the day justice…

  2. marimann March 9, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    Your pictures may not do justice to the phenomenon but they are amazingly beautiful! I don’t think we get anything like that here on the coast of NC. I remember those Christmas trees with “flocking” on them….

    • Gretchen O'Donnell March 9, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Thank you! I don’t think that the west coast gets it either…at least I don’t remember it to this degree. Is it a prairie thing? I don’t know. I just know that I love it!

  3. LonelyTravelog March 9, 2012 at 9:35 am #


  4. cravesadventure March 9, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Beautiful photos – thanks for sharing:) Have a Great Weekend!

  5. bitsandbreadcrumbs March 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Such gorgeous images, Gretchen! 🙂 I’m spreading around a little blogging love today. You can check it out here:

  6. Just A Smidgen March 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    I love galaverna too!! Only now I know what it is! You’re galaverna is thicker and longer than my galaverna:)

  7. gardenfreshtomatoes March 10, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    Spectacular – and no need to shovel it! 😉
    I’ve always been partial to the word ‘hoarfrost’… I just love the old-fashioned sound of it.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell March 10, 2012 at 7:33 am #

      Ok, I love getting different perspectives! I’m so glad that there are people out there (presuming that you aren’t the only one) who likes the word. And yes, not having to shovel it is definitely a plus! It always melts so quickly, which is a bummer.

  8. rutheh March 11, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Just beautiful series of photos of the “flocking” . I learned a new word today.
    We haven’t really had a winter and it feels strange.
    I hope you will consider hosting a Flat Ruthie and writing an adventure post for her.
    Check out
    Thanks Gretchen.
    Ruth in Pittsburgh

    • Gretchen O'Donnell March 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Yes, it’s been a weird winter here, too – but we still got a bit of snow and one or two days of this beautiful flocking!

      Yes! I’d love to have Flat Ruthie! I’ll check out her page…

  9. Mel March 13, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Wow… those photos are stunning!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell March 13, 2012 at 7:12 am #

      You’re so kind. I had a lot of fun taking them. And the temperatures were such that it wasn’t even too cold while I did so!

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