Jack Frost Nipping

This morning, long before the sun peeked over the gargantuan pines lining the front yard, I went outside with my camera. (I’m trying to be a good blogger and take pictures as often as I can. So far, I’d give myself a D minus.) What the hell can I shoot today? I wondered. The yard is the yard is the yard. Trees, grass, shrubs. The broken-down Adirondack chair that neither The One nor I have the heart to bring to the dump. The lichen-covered hammock. As I was about to turn on my very cold heels, I heard it. The grass crunching. Kind of the way Momma Leite’s heavily shellacked beehive crunches right after Noreen does her hair on Thursdays.


It may not have been the first time frost has covered everything this year, but it was the first time I was outside before sunrise to hear and see it. I crunched through the yard, bending over to take close-ups of frosted dead grass (not very interesting), frosted dead leaves (even less interesting), and a frosted mouse kidney (leftovers from Devil Cat’s latest meal).

A close-up of frost covered periwinkle

Then I saw it. The yew hedge tucked into the winter shade was dusted with frosted flakes, as I called frost when I was a kid. While I got myself all set up, a car slowed as it drove by. You’d think they’d never seen a man in his pajamas and T-shirt standing on a chair far too delicate for his rotundness to snap pictures of a hedge before. I remembered my favorite Christmas song, aptly named “The Christmas Song,” and the line “Jack Frost nipping at your nose.” (After I’d been outside for almost 45 minutes, I can assure you, he was nipping at a hell of a lot more than just my nose.) I began very loudly serenading the nosy driver with lyrics. I just pray it wasn’t Barbara Henry, our first selectman. I have enough to explain without adding this to the list.

A macro close-up of frost on a window

Chilled, I hightailed it back inside. My first thought: hot chocolate. Nah, too sweet. Then I asked WWRD? (What would Renee do?) And I knew I had the perfect drink I could nip all the way to New Year’s: Spruce Needle Vodka. I looked at our Christmas tree–a handsome balsam–and wondered what The One might do if he came home and found the tree on its side and Devil Cat tangled in the string of lights he could suddenly reach now that half the tree branches had gone missing. I thought better of it and added “pine boughs” to my grocery list. How will I ever explain this to the manager at the Stop & Shop?

The word "David" written in script.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I’m sitting at the table with my lap top in my SF Bay area home still in my flannel pj’s and a sweater, wrapped in a blanket-poncho with my space heater blasting at my fuzzy slippered feet, shivering. And you went Outside to take a frosty photo at sunrise? In the northeast? In your make-shift pj’s with no robe and wondered why car-guy slowed down to take a look? A blahg is a cruel master and you are it’s…what? (begins with the letter B)

    1. LOL!!! It was all worth it to read your hysterical comment, Susan. Yes, my blog has long ago made me its bitch, to use the colloquial term. And what can I do? I’m in love with it….

  2. Pretty picture.

    I do hope you didn’t sacrifice your health to capture it. Next time, wear a ratty bathroom outside like the rest of us do! Maybe the extra layer will help.

  3. I love this song, especially when sung by Nat. Seems very perfect for the picture too. As for explainun yourself (insert Desi saying to Lucy, “You got sum explainun to do!”) to the Stop & Shop Manager, well maybe you’ll be lucky and the Manager won’t be around when you arrive. Enjoy your warming brew. P.S. 45 minutes in PJ’s in the cold, makes me shiver just thinking about it. Better you than sissy me. I probably would have lasted maybe five minutes outside like that, even with my increased dosage of medicine for hypothyroidism. It has warmed me up a bit, but not enough to be modeling that attire. Shiver, shiver again.

    1. I just hope Stop & Shop or ShopRite carry unsprayed fresh holiday boughs. The last thing I want is for my vodka to wink with glitter. I was cold but it wasn’t sub zero, so it wasn’t bad. But I do wonder if I played too loose and fancy free because I feel a bit of a frog in my throat this morning….