Ranger Kathryn's Arches

December 4, 2011

I wonder as I wander

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 3:30 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

‘From without no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves unless some interior responding wonder meets it.’      — Herman Melville

The first shovel-able snow of the season fell last night, a little late for Minnesota but arriving with a determined intention to stay until March. Landscapes are transformed, hearts are lightened, and it’s easier to see outside after dark.

Snow is mesmerizing, even though it can be accompanied by more challenging hallmarks of winter: bitter cold, or biting wind. Still, I want my heart to wonder at the intricacies of snowflakes. I view my woods as being newly draped in millions of miniscule masterpieces.

This image used by permission of SnowCrystals.com, which is one of those fascinating websites that could turn you into a snowflake geek in a heartbeat.

According to researchers at CalTech, a dust nucleus is the seed of the crystalline structure. This hexagonal plate, only a few microns in diameter, owes its shape to the molecular structure of ice. Blown and buffeted, air characteristics constantly changing, the extremely sensitive flake responds to tiny changes in conditions. Different growth patterns result from alterations in humidity, turbulence, velocity, and air temperatures.

Let those snowflake researchers play around in their climate-controlled labs. I prefer a stroll through my woods, where I can wander, and wonder, freely.

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[Warning: a visit to SnowCrystals.com can steal a half hour of your time, with cool photo galleries and ID guide to dozens of different kinds of flakes. It’s better than losing a half hour on Facebook, however.]

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