The alarm went off at 5:50 in the morning. That moment of transition between sleep and wakefulness is a short, sharp one on certain days, and a dull, lingering one on others. That day, it was a swift rising.
The alarm tinkled with a naughty smile – “Snow snuffles and snuggles”, it said with a snowman and a snowflake thrown in for good measure.
The husband was not awake yet. Would he have liked this alarm? I wondered as I hit a snooze, and gathered the flowing blankets around me for a quick snuggle in the warmth before padding out into the cold to start the day.
The alarm that day was meant to set the mood and it sure did. We had gone over for a quick ski trip in the mountains nearby, and while we all looked forward to a day in the snow, it was also a day that the weather app forecasted as having heavy snow in the upper reaches and rain in the lower reaches of the mountains.
Driving in the snow is not for everyone. The last time we were stuck in the middle of a snow storm , we found ourselves, car and all, whistling and gliding through the snow looking like reindeer chasing after blackberries and magic mushrooms. (Read here: In Boysenberry Jelly & Mistletoe Jam)
Obviously, I was worried.
Which meant, I sat straight backed, with my woodpecker nose lengthening in the rear view mirror as I drew agitated gasps. I was also doing an impressive amount of passenger-seat driving and botching up directions thoroughly ( we found ourselves losing our way at least twice and doing a u-turn with the snowflakes hurling at us with light-hearted gaiety). My frowning only seemed to make the snowflakes more frivolous and they seemed to dance and jig their way from the skies looking joyous and relaxed, while I twitched and tutted inside, restless for us to reach our destination.
All of that worry evaporated the moment the car was parked and we found ourselves out on the slopes however. My face split into a slow wide smile, and I raised my face to welcome the little flakes on my skin. I was wearing a black scarf, and the snowflakes against the scarf made for a wonderful sight. Never had I see them this closely, and I was mesmerized. Each of them had a beautiful symmetry and a unique shape. Some of them clung together giving them the shape of pinecones. Others landed gently on my scarf giving me the gift of observing their individual shapes.
I have heard it said that no two snowflakes are the same. Every time in the snow I wonder how they possibly could have studied that. When millions are hurling down, what is the sample size that can make us reasonably assume that no two snowflakes are the same? It turns out the myth of the snowflake probably originated in 1885 in a remote farm in Virginia. A farmer, William Bentley, spent his winters photographing the snowflakes placed under a microscope. He spent years trying to photograph over 5000 flakes ( an extremely hard task given how quickly the snowflakes sublime.)
I had no idea I could enjoy seeing the snowflakes so much: Tiny versions of perfection, and joy. And I had with me perfect companions on this adventurous day – Children. Children, who had not yet lost their sense of wondrous joy, and they helped me enjoy these little models of perception and perfection almost with as much joy as their own, and to that I am grateful.
I recently read Rachel Carson’s, A Sense of Wonder, in which she says:
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder … he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
I hope I was that adult to these children, but the truth is that they were the ones who led to my inner child so surely and unerringly with their enthusiasm and joy. I learnt from them not to mind the discomforts of a blue nose or a shivering hand when I had at my disposal the enormous present of appreciating a snowflake’s beauty.