The other morning I slept in while millions of snowflakes careened past my window. Outside our door the millions of them piled. After a time my husband jokingly declared he was going out to do “the man’s work” of snow shoveling. I didn’t move a muscle despite the fact my muscles seem programmed to do otherwise. My mind recalled countless snowy days I climbed into my plow truck or gripped tightly to a shovel in the hand-to-hand combat of a Noreaster. Today I’m grateful that I no longer shutter at the sight of a snowflake.
For twelve years, I operated a snow removal company and I never slept in when the snow flied. I wouldn’t be laughing, either. Back then you’d have found me watching the weather channel feeling more like I wanted to cry. I began my work in the business of snow three months after the father of my children died of a heart attack in his sleep. He had no life insurance so I ran the business he left me to keep my family afloat. That sick feeling that lodges in your stomach after the loss of a loved one somehow became synonymous with the falling snowflakes. My fellow plow operators shared their love and hate for it as they instructed me not to ever push too much, too far or too fast. For close to a decade, every time it snowed my nervous system went into a high alert state of fear.
Then one day I was visiting a friend and I picked up The Little Book of Snowflakes off her coffee table. When I opened it and found the symmetrical beauty of these tiny frozen beings captured in Kenneth Libberecht’s stunning photography my insurmountable fear slowly began to melt.
The book magnified the true reality of the snowflake. I witnessed the care Nature took to create these diamond-like creatures in the heavens above. I was filled with wonder viewing the magnified images that brought their exquisite design into full view. Marveling at their intricate detail dislodged the story of pain and death I had attached to them. Curiosity kept me turning the pages to learn that like us, no two snowflakes are alike. They got bounced around in the clouds prior to falling from clouds, just like I got bounced around in my truck clearing them from portions of ground. From that moment on I felt a kinship with the snowflakes. Perceiving them just as they are freed me from negative stories and allowed me to discern their grace and experience more emotional balance in each snowstorm that followed.
I hung up my plow keys a few years later for better opportunities. When a big storm rolls in, I’m mindful to switch off the weather updates when the fear wants to take lodging. I simply sit by a window, find my breath and give full attention to watching the blessed millions of snowflakes make their journey from Heaven to blanket the Earth. Libbrecht included this piece by Heinrich Heine that sums up their divinity, “Like a great poet, Nature knows how to produce the greatest effects with the most limited means.”
To see more of Kenneth G. Libbrecht's work http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/