The fascination of snowflakes can be seen through the curious eyes of a child to scientific researchers pushing the boundaries of knowledge. In 1885, Wilson Alwyn Bentley, also known as Snowflake Man, began photographing snowflakes by adapting a microscope to a bellows camera. During his lifetime he had photographed more than 5,000 snow crystals. He became deeply interested in their six-cornered shaped design that had a structure that did not repeat itself.
Snow on the ground is a mixture of snowflakes and air. Millions upon millions of icy flakes pile together with pockets of air between them. In general, there are three kinds of snow that you have seen fallen to the ground during the winter season. There is a dry, fluffy, snow made up of star-like flakes with six branching fernlike plumes heaped together like feathers. This type of snow piles up nicely in fluffy cushions on top of branches, fence rails, roofs and birdhouses.
Then there is the damp snow, composed of a simple, flat, six-sided pattern that settles together with a minute amount of air between the flakes. This type of snow is my favorite. It is perfect to build an honorable snowman or encourages a snowball fight to wistfully enjoy a perfect afternoon. Finally there is the very tiny six-sided flake that is so light and dry that it resembles grains of flour. This kind of snow falls only during the coldest of cold weather or in the heartiest of an Adirondack winter.
The beauty of snow is scribed throughout history to its purpose, inspiration, arrival and departure. Even Lucy Van Pelt, in the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas story, graces us with her opinion to the perfect snowflake. She holds true to her belief that January snowflakes are more flavorful than December snowflakes. Yet, the arrival of snow occurred later this season and I am left wondering if this will be a reoccurrence to the years that follow.