Our ideas of snow are kind ones.
We gravitate towards postcard images of pristine white snow, thick like cream on cars and roofs. We visualize gentle snow drifts as we stand among trees relinquishing foliage and bracing for increased darkness and exposure of their skeletal forms.
Video footage of a snowflake feathering out in wondrous intricacy can be addictive to watch, like cat videos, but more sublime. Their patterns and uniqueness are linked to a mathematical system known as fractals, defined as chaotic equations of similar patterns in increasing complexity.
I have never thought to liken myself to a snowflake since my knowledge of them was late in coming and even later in experience. I grew up in the tropics and witnessed the effects of snow before I saw one fall, when I woke up in Wilmore, Kentucky, to snow-covered rooftops and snow-dusted trees. When I stood in the open and they fell light and gentle, I was entranced. What magic is this, floating and flying with the wind, that can soon blanket and transform any space and object?
But ‘chaotic patterns’ and ‘complexity’ are so relatable. Much as I like to be a whole, stable person, there are many forces that shape and incline my being — from hormones to working from home, the husband to hopes and dreams.
Like the snowflake, I am tiny (I really am at a mere five foot and a hundred and fifteen pounds) and my life feels timorous and fleeting. There are days when life gets so blazing hot that I was sure I would melt away and everything I have done would be forgotten and inconsequential.
I have stuck my tongue out to taste one, let one rest on my finger, and wished to store some in a jar. But snowflakes come when they are ready, and beckon us towards tenderness.
I know the snow can in time turn to sludge and be a mess too. That it can fall so fast and much that life can be inconvenienced and interrupted.
My life will never be devoid of messes, made by me or others. Sometimes I come on too strong and my uniqueness becomes a problem for others — it is too overpowering, too loud, and too imposing. I can refuse to melt, to just be, to embrace the weather changes.