As I was walking in the meadow one recent cold afternoon, I noticed an odd pattern in the dirt. At first, I suspected the print of someone’s shoe, but it was much to widely present to have been a shoe. They are tiny ditches in the layer of loose dirt that covers the open areas between the prairie grass. As I walked, I found a cause. Scattered across the path in the shade, the tiny ditches were full of ice.
We had rain the night before, not enough to wash the dust into the creek, just enough to make it muddy. The water had coalesced out of the dust into tiny ice worms. The tiny ice cubes were about the size of a small caterpillar. When they thawed, the water seeped back into the earth leaving the piles of damp dirt and the intricate patterns across my path. See the picture below.