Thoughts on Snow: Part One

Well, we just got our first major snowfall of the season here, and, as we only got just under a foot of snow, how can we complain, after what our friends over in upstate New York have been going through.

Yet again, I am reminded of how important it is to thank God-every day-for our everyday “conveniences” … how I pray not to ever take for granted, and to thank God, personally, every day for electricity, running water (and hot water!), for heat, for shelter from the weather, for our vehicles (including my bicycle), for having a stove and refrigerator … etc. etc. …

 God has a way of reminding us just how blessed we are … and, if I may use the term “unfortunately,” it is usually when we realize or see, someone who has it “worse off” than us. That’s why I make a point every day to thank him for what we so often take for granted … I already know how blessed I am, and most importantly, Who those blessings come from. I want Him to know I am grateful … not just for what He has already done … but, for what I know He is going to do.

 We have been blessed up here in the North Country, having enjoyed a really nice, and extended, Fall season. I have had friends from upstate New York, and I remember them explaining to me, back when I was in Georgia, and had no clue what real Winter was, how they only had a certain number of weekends in the year when they could enjoy being outdoors, when they had “good” weather. I remember that it wasn’t too many weekends. They would tell me how they would have to cram every outdoor activity they wanted to do, into these weekends. That’s why they would “go nuts” for a few weekends every year, swimming, hiking, boating, just being outside in “shirt sleeves” for these very few, numbered days. God bless them! I have a small idea of what it’s like to be stuck in “Winter-mode” while I know most of the country is enjoying nice weather … but, that’s just part of it. Our Winters up here are long, and hard, and long, and hard, and long, and … well, you get the idea …

Robert Frost used to say that when the snow covers the ground, for the first time in New Hampshire, you don’t see the ground again until May. He’s right. By the way … what a great name for a writer living in New Hampshire! Just thought about that. I remember one of my favorite quotes from Helen Keller, how she has met some people who were colder than any Nor’easter she had ever experienced. That doesn’t really fit into this subject, but it did allow me to mention Helen Keller and a Nor’easter …

So, anyway, at school on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving, as we were at the door awaiting the arrival of Kindergarteners, we were discussing snow. One of the things I was the most surprised about, after moving to northern New Hampshire, was how so many people who live up here hate the cold … and, hate the snow. I’m sure that’s the same way everywhere. We never seem to be happy, so matter where we are. I guess that’s another subject for another time, too …

Anyway, there are also many folks up here who love the Winter, and love the snow that comes with it. In fact, they are thrilled when the forecast calls for that first major storm. Thrilled! I guess it does take all kinds … anyway … we were talking about snow, and how “white” it is. I mean, there is just nothing that is whiter than snow. It is so pure … so white … so beautiful (the first time it falls … then, “ok that’s enough … you can leave now” …). We were comparing our clothing to the color of snow. We had white shirts, but not as white as snow. We would point things out, around us, which were white, but, no, they weren’t “whiter than snow.” Or as white as snow.

So, later, as I plowed the snow for the first time this year, and, just today, as I raked the roof … yes, up here we have to rake the roof … What do you mean, “How do we do that?” With a roof rake, of course! Hey-I just got a new pair of Winter boots … good to -40 Celsius! I’m not sure how cold that is, but I’m sure I’ll need them. The old snow boots just won’t take duct tape anymore … So, as I was “enjoying” all this Winter activity, I really started to wonder, “Just why is the snow so white?”

So, I did research: I found out a lot of scientific information to explain why snow is so white. It seems the real fact is that snow “appears” to be white. The explanation was pretty elaborate … I didn’t want a Degree … I just wanted to know why snow is so white …

The bottom-line reason that snow appears to be white is because, when you combine all of the colors in the spectrum together … you get “white.” Really? Yes. Here’s the scientific explanation (highly edited):
Snow is a whole bunch of individual ice crystals arranged together. Basically, all the crystals bounce the light all around, so all colors of light are bounced back out. The “color” of all the frequencies in the visible spectrum combined in equal measure is white. So this is the color we see in snow. So even though individual ice crystals are clear, their combined form – which is snow – bounces off light frequency in such a way that the final result, as we see it, is “white snow.” By the way, individual snowflakes actually do appear clear when viewed up close (under a microscope).
Snowflakes are not frozen raindrops. They’re an aggregation, or cluster, of thousands of ice crystals that fall from a cloud.

I did get the opportunity to brag on God, about He is so brilliant, He is able to make every snowflake different … just as He has made all of us different. God uses what we would call “scientific methods” to do His work. I call this “scientific processes.” In teaching about healing, I use the fact that, since God invented the process, He can step in for a moment, stop or change the process (since He invented it), and put the normal process back to working again. Again, that explains why God can heal. He is the Creator of the process, so He can control it.

Now … back to snow … Why is it that “no two snowflakes are alike?” Is this true? I figure that God can make them anyway He chooses … and, if He chooses, He could make them all alike. Individual snowflakes all follow slightly different paths from the sky to the ground, and therefore encounter slightly different atmospheric conditions along the way. This, in turn, means that each snowflake will have a slightly different growth rate and shape. Because of this, it is very unlikely that any two snowflakes will appear to be identical. But while it’s unlikely, it isn’t impossible. There have been a few occasions when twin snowflakes were found. Since so many factors affect the structure of a snowflake, and since a snowflake’s structure is constantly changing in response to environmental conditions, it is improbable that anyone would see two identical snowflakes.

One more fact about snowflakes: An average snowflake measures 1/2 inch in diameter, but can grow as large as 3 to 4 inches across. The largest snowflake on record occurred in Fort Keogh, Montana in January of 1887: It was 15 inches in diameter! Can you imagine looking outside your window … and, see snow falling … with snowflakes 15 inches wide …

Well, that’s about it for the scientific part of our program …
In closing, there is one thing I have learned, which goes against what I had heard, before moving up here:
I have learned to never say, or believe, that “it’s too cold to snow.”
I also always capitalize the word “Winter.” I do this out of respect. It reminds me of times I have traveled along the Mississippi River. The people always speak of “the River” with awe and respect. You can just hear it in their voices. So, I have learned to speak of “Winter” with respect. And, to learn to respect it, as I have lived with it.

I guess I’ve getting really adapted to the weather up here. I mentioned that we just had our first “major” snow. This is true, but we’ve had snow on the ground for a while, just not a foot. So, this past week, I dragged the grill over to the center of our front deck/porch …. And, I cooked hamburgers, on the grill … on top of the snow …
Then, just yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, I was out on the porch … the sun was trying to shine brightly … there was no wind … and it was 30 degrees …. I felt like wearing a T-Shirt …

Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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One response to “Thoughts on Snow: Part One

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Snow-Part Three: A Biblical Perspective | Pastor Appreciation Gifts Blog

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