My Two Cents

On snowflakes, LPs, cows, and writing

by Jan 28, 2012Slices of life1 comment

I know the drill with Google doodles. If you hover the cursor on the doodle, a tag will appear telling you what the doodle celebrates.

The Google doodle today is a cow happily munching in a field as a large snowflake descends. When the snowflake comes to rest, the cow looks up, moos and resumes munching. How quaint, I said, as I hovered my cursor.

“125th anniversary of the world’s largest snowflake.”

Apparently on January 28, 1887 in Fort Keogh, Montana, someone (I’ll call him Abel Witness) was standing around watching snow fall. Those of us who hail from rural environs (what some call the sticks) do a lot of watching grass grow, paint dry and, in the northern sticks, snow fall. Luckily for all of us, Abel Witness had his trusty tape measure with him that day and when he spied a larger than normal snowflake descending, he was ready.

He took the measure of the snowflake. And since Abel was in Montana, he measured it in inches. 15 of them. Even in Canadian terms, in 1887, that snowflake was 15 inches across. The snowflake would be almost 100 years old before we Canadians would change its diameter to 38 centimetres.

Think about that. 15 inches. 38 centimetres. Bigger than an LP record. For you young’uns, an LP is about the size of three CDs placed side by side. It’s an old-fashioned vinyl disk on which musicians recorded music. They came in mono or stereo. Of course, to get the benefit of the stereo LPs, you had to play them on a stereo record player. That was a serious step up from your basic record player.

I digress.

I don’t think that Abel Witness really knew what he saw descending that day. Would your first thought, on seeing a very large, white disk approaching, be “golly, lookit that flake?”

No. I’ll bet you toonies to doodles that Abel said something along the lines of, “Is Gramma Murphy tossing her dinner plates out the window again?”  Or “That doily looks better out here than it does on my armchair.” Who knows – perhaps he even started thinking about little green men.

But, luckily for us, Abel Witness did not turn tail and run. He whipped out his trusty tape measure, approached the large white doily, realized it was a snowflake and recorded its dimensions for posterity.

I like the Google doodle. I really do. But I don’t think the doodle gives the cow enough credit. Have a look at the doodle – if you read this after the doodle changes, just search “Google largest snowflake doodle.” Or try this link: Google cow/snowflake.

Don’t you think that cow has a fairly subdued reaction to a 15-inch object invading its turf? Would you look up and simply moo? And I don’t think that snowflake floated down gently beside either Abel Witness or the cow. That’s one big flake, it’s got to weigh more than your average flake and pick up some speed on the way down. I think it plummeted, rocketed, plunged down. I think the air whistled as the flake passed through.

I think that cow would have figured out pretty dang quick that it should move to greener and safer pastures. It might have mooed, but the moo would have been from off-pasture, and accompanied by the sound of retreating hooves.

What does the world’s largest snowflake have to do with writing? I’m from the northern sticks. I invested a lot of years in watching snow fall. Today it sparked a few musings. And when the muse visits, I like to be a good hostess. I want her to stick around, and visit again.

1 Comment

  1. Gibsons Girl

    What a lovely muse you must have. She takes you back and brings you home again! Lovely reading, thanks, Charlotte!

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