Embracing Winter

Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 by Larkspur

Photo of snow on branchesWinter can be a trying time for many of us, especially if we aren’t lucky enough to be able to hop on an airplane and head to sunny, southern climes for a respite warm and bright.

If you are “Missouri-bound” for the winter, then you might as well take advantage of the season. It can be a mood-lifter to spend time outdoors, even if the weather doesn’t seem conducive to it. In Norway, where it can be quite cold and snowy during the winter season, they have a saying which goes something like this: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

So taking that motto to heart, when it’s cold, bundle up and head outside. There are many wonderful trails to walk in Columbia, or your can stick to your own neighborhood streets and sidewalks. It can be especially wonderful to be outside in a snowstorm. Once when my boys were young, around ages 8 and 11, we went out to sled during the day. It was snowing to beat the band, the flakes falling in huge, heavy clumps. There came a moment when my older son called out to me, “Mama, look up!” We both stared up into the sky, mesmerized by the infinity of swirling snow rushing down at us from the vast gray expanse. Those moments lost in reverie were pure joy, and that day is a favorite memory of mine.

Since “The Old Farmer’s Almanac is forecasting above average snowfall for the heartland in 2017, this might be a good year to venture out in a snow storm and discover the magic beauty of snowflakes. If you haven’t taken a magnifying glass to view a snowflake (the correct technical term is “snow crystal,” but the two terms are interchangeable), you’ve missed out on an amazing natural wonder. Another amazing thing to watch is how snowflakes form.

Back in from the cold and snowflake viewing, you can use your newly acquired inspiration to make snowflakes of your own—using paper. I discovered “Decorative Paper Snowflakes” by Brenda Lee Reed in a catalog100 Snowflakes to Crochet book cover when my children were wee ones. (A similar book you can check out from the library is “Snowflakes for All Seasons.”) We got this pattern book out every winter for years and selected several snowflakes to make. Over the years we amassed a lovely assortment to use in our seasonal home decorating (we keep these treasures pressed between book pages for safekeeping the rest of the year). Tip: it is helpful to use manicure scissors to make the more intricate cuts. You can also take your snowflake crafting in the direction of crocheting or quilting.

photo of snowflakesI’d be remiss if I didn’t mention early photomicrography pioneer Wilson Bentley. As a teen living in rural Vermont, he became obsessed with snow crystals, and he devoted his time to figuring out how to capture their images by adapting a microscope to a camera. In 1885 he succeeded by becoming the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. Then he spent decades honing and using his methods to capture over 5,000 snow crystals in photographs. After years of examining his images, he was able to declare that no two snow crystals are ever identical. Bentley’s dedicated efforts to capture the beauty of snow crystals in photos and share them with the world earned him the moniker “Snowflake Bentley.”

“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”

                               ~Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley 1925


photo credits: Rich Herrmann, White Wave of Snow, via Flickr (license); Wilson Bentley, Snowflakes, via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)