Friday, December 21, 2007

Let it Snow

The weather in Paris has been cold. Yesterday for the first time, I saw frost on the grass as I crossed place Vauban. Frost caking the windshields. I've noticed more Parisian women wearing hats, finally. I was wondering about that.

In Paris it seems that the cold penetrates more, with all the stone in the built environment. Am I imagining it, or does the stone just pull the heat right out of you?

We were spoiled by a mild winter last year, so this is new for me. Anyway, it seems that most Parisians are heading out of town for the countryside or the mountains for les vacances de Noel. We're staying put here. I don't need to dream of a white Christmas. I've got my Christmas dream already -- aged 19 and 21, respectively, still sleeping as I write.

I gather that back in New England the weather has been, well, wintry. Snow, sleet, ice, with below freezing temperatures and treacherous traveling. So I can't complain. I honestly don't miss snow a bit. I don't miss shovelling through it, trudging through it, taking those clumps of snow out of the heel of my boots. Not that I don't like snow. I love to visit snow.

Lacking snow at Christmastime in Paris, I thought it would be fun to at least have some virtual snow. And my all-time favorite is the collection of photographs by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. The first person to photograph individual snowflakes, in 1885, Bentley ultimately produced 5000 images of snowflakes, none of which are exactly alike, of course. His own words:

"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."

There are more modern photos of snowflakes, but Bentley's images are pure poetry. His photographic oeuvre is worthy of exhibiting at a Paris gallery.

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