AJ, this is quite nice. I suspect the dark color of the needles has absorbed enough heat from the sun that it has caused the ice/snow to melt in that small spot. There will also be a bit of metabolic heat to add to that as well. I wonder if you could increase the sharpness in the ice at the top and in the needles in back without increasing the DOF. I've never used the technique, but I would think that focus stacking might be a good approach here, getting all of the key elements in focus without losing the OOF background.