When I was a young girl, my family celebrated Thanksgivings at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. We lived on the eastern side of our pacific northwest state. Almost always it snowed, creating a magical veil to the upcoming wonder waiting on the other side; Winter. My cousins and I would emerge from the basement where we’d spend the afterhours of our celebration playing old 45’s on a record player, board games, and ping-pong, to find white snowflakes falling softly in the glow of streetlamps. As Dad warmed the car and Mom said her long good-byes, my sister and I wandered the quiet sidewalks making footprints. Each one (for me) a wish for winter’s enchantment.
Every snowflake begins the same way. A tiny drop of moisture from a cloud freezes onto a pollen or dust particle. As it falls, water vapors freeze onto the existing crystal causing six arms to grow.
As an adult, I know the pressure I put on Winter’s season was unrealistic. I would declare each white snowflake a wish of realization, a gift of knowledge, a hope for my future. I absentmindedly put my fate in the icy hands of Winter. Somehow I believed it would cocoon me until Spring when I would be reborn as this amazing, talented young lady who earned perfect grades and knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
It never truly worked out that way, as you can imagine. Although to this day, with each snowfall, I’m still pulled to my moments under the streetlamps along my Aunt and Uncle’s street. There’s just something enchanting about ivory ice crystals dancing their long journey from the overcast sky to the glove of my hand. I’m transfixed under their spells, and always, always hopeful.
Atmospheric conditions play a major role in the creation of a snowflake. The wind blows each one in a dance through different temperatures and humidity levels along its journey to earth.
I suppose it’s like a bath of fateful wonder. Instead of a steamy bathtub with candles and soft music, I’m bundled in Northface with a pink nose on a silent night. Questions flood like a snowstorm, where am I headed next in life’s travels? What do I need to learn to become all I’m bound to be? What is it I’m being called to accomplish? What stories? What poems? What destinies await my short gift of life?
When I was a child I could stay out in the cold forever. Mom would decide when I’d had enough, my blue lips and white fingertips gave me no bother. Today, my baptisms of snowfall and wonder are shorter. I get colder easier, even in my layers. Even on the western side of the state where we can sometimes live through an entire season without any snow at all.
No two snowflakes are the same. Each crystal formation needs the perfect amount of cold and moisture and wind and time to become the exquisite and unique snowflake that it is.
And time; time is always, always of essence these days. There’s much to do with my household, my family, my day job and writing both. The older I get, the less time there is to accomplish everything… including writing all the ideas falling like their own snowstorm in my head. What if I can’t get it all done before my time here is gone? Will I find those crystal destinies promised all those years ago, under the veil of Winter, before my turn to melt away comes calling?
Well, of course, I’m hopeful. And so I write. I write every day that I can. I revise what I’ve written. Then sometimes I write it all again. As long as more Winters are before me, and snowflakes find their way to my soul, I will write.
Snowflakes all begin the same way. They all descend from clouds in the same sky, their same make-up of water molecules with one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. The oxygen end is negatively charged, while the hydrogen ends are positively charged, thus creating a hexagon when joined by neighboring water molecules.
There are billions of people out there, many of which wish to write. I am one of them. I don’t know my future, how much time I have, or if anything will come of anything I pen to paper. But I suppose I will continue my dance through Winter’s sky.
We all begin the same way, and then are born into the world with the same needs for survival. It’s that landing that becomes unique and wide open for each of us to grasp. And for many of us, in the hustle and bustle of life, we forget. For me, it’s the turn of Fall to Winter that sets me straight. It’s when I emerge from the basement of preoccupation to greet the magic. It’s that moment when the snow first falls that I make my wish for a new, fresh start.
By the time snowflakes land on Earth, although side-by-side to others in their journeys down, each one is unique and special. Some are plated, some are like needles, or columns. Each one symmetrical in shape, though original in style.
Writing Advice: Add a little nonfiction to your fiction (or add a little fiction to your nonfiction)
I have recently been inspired by several artists weaving nonfiction information into their fiction work in wonderous ways. From poetry to essays, the reader has an opportunity to learn something new as they enjoy the journey of the story. Writers have been doing this for years, and there are far too many examples to list them all. But for some reason, perhaps as a random snowflake landing on my cheek unexpectedly, I’ve been inspired to seek some inspiration in this area.
I’ve just picked up two books that coil nonfiction with poetic prose, from author Lyanda Lynn Haupt (http://www.lyandalynnhaupt.com/). Writer and college professor, Tamara Miles (http://tamaramiles.wixsite.com/sylviasdaughtersays), includes history and nonfiction in several of her poems. My young class has fallen in love with author Katherine Applegate (http://katherineapplegate.com/) and her oh-so-close-to-reality, yet imaginative fictional stories. These are just to name a few.
So, I’ve given it a quick try with snowflakes above. I found joy in researching snowflakes and then finding the perfect spots to paraphrase the information into my article. I’m loving the flow (and hope you like it as well). Regardless of how well or unwell I performed, how about you give it a try in something you’re working on right now.
Find a topic your characters are going through, or experiencing, or tampering with, and read up on some research. See where you can nonchalantly add bits of information. Maybe a quirky side-character spews off random trivia. Perhaps your poem on the coming of winter can include some facts on ice settling upon mountain ponds.
If you’re already writing nonfiction, see how you might twist your vocabulary into a flowing piece of prose about the topic. Possibly as an introduction or conclusion to a chapter. Be creative – as readers seem to like it ALL these days. We are in the era of information, so let us embrace it.
I would love to know how you delved into this challenge. Comment below or private message me about your accomplishments. Sharing helps us all grow in our craft.
By Celaine Charles, November 18, 2018
Image and Content Links:
https://www.noaa.gov/stories/how-do-snowflakes-form-science-behind-snow (article for italicized snowflake information above)
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-science-of-snowflakes/article7735242/ (another article for italicized snowflake information above)
http://tamaramiles.wixsite.com/sylviasdaughtersays (Tamara Miles)
http://www.lyandalynnhaupt.com/ (Lyanda Lynn Haupt)
http://katherineapplegate.com/ (Katherine Applegate)
https://chemstuff.co.uk/2012/12/09/snow-chemistry/2j46o7t/ (the science of a snowflake)
http://favim.com/image/21773/ (girl looking at streetlamp)
https://lifestyle.allwomenstalk.com/firsts-we-never-grow-tired-of (footprints in snow)
http://iwallpapers.free.fr/picture.php?/10158/tags/272-froid (fall turns winter)
https://www.tes.com/lessons/O9VK5oObBTu7Fg/fact-and-opinion (nf or fiction)
Categories: Thoughts on writing...
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