They fall from the sky seemingly infinite in number, the snowflake. Wilson Bentley, one of the best known snowflake photographers referred to them as “tiny miracles of beauty” or “ice flowers”.  We see some of nature’s most beautiful art in these tiny gifts from the sky.

The snowflake is an ice crystal or a group of ice crystals that fall from the sky. If enough are accumulated they will form a snow pack.  In northern Michigan we experience seasonal snow packs which help renew our water resources.

The recipe for a snowflake asks for a dust particle, subfreezing temperatures and moisture. Within a supersaturated air mass water droplets freeze around the dust particle forming ice crystals. These crystals appear white as they reflect the full color spectrum but are actually clear. As the particle falls through a variety of areas of varying temperatures and humidity levels they change shape. All snowflakes are hexagonal or six sided, however the pattern within the hexagon varies.  Snowflakes have been classified into eight categories  according to shape.

“Magono and Lee devised a classification of freshly formed snow crystals that includes 80 distinct shapes. They are listed in the following main categories (with symbol):[20]

  • Needle crystal (N) – Subdivided into: Simple and combination of needles
  • Columnar crystal (C) – Subdivided into: Simple and combination of columns
  • Plate crystal (P) – Subdivided into: Regular crystal in one plane, plane crystal with extensions, crystal with irregular number of branches, crystal with 12 branches, malformed crystal, radiating assemblage of plane branches
  • Combination of columnar and plate crystals (CP) – Subdivided into: Column with plane crystal at both ends, bullet with plane crystals, plane crystal with spatial extensions at ends
  • Columnar crystal with extended side planes (S) – Subdivided into: Side planes, scalelike side planes, combination of side planes, bullets and columns
  • Rimed crystal (R) – Subdivided into: Rimed crystal, densely rimed crystal, graupellike crystal, graupel
  • Irregular snow crystal (I) – Subdivided into: Ice particle, rimed particle, broken piece from a crystal, miscellaneous
  • Germ of snow crystal (G) – Subdivided into: Minute column, germ of skeleton form, minute hexagonal plate, minute stellar crystal, minute assemblage of plates, irregular germ” Wikipedia – Snowflake

For a better look go to

I am completely captivated by this snow magic.  When we got to  the chapter on polygons I taught my fourth graders that hexagons are the strongest shape in nature. We would eat honeycomb and take magnifying glasses outside to check out the snowflakes that fell on our sleeves and hands. I still like doing this with my grandson or on my own. I imagine there are many of us that inspect snowflakes.

Wilson Alwyn Bentley of Jericho, Vermont became a professional admirer of snowflakes.  After a great deal of experimentation Bentley captured his first image of a single snowflake in 1885. He had attached a microscope to a bellows camera and photographed ice crystals as they fell on black velvet. He took 5,ooo images of snowflakes over his life time. His images are highly valued. In 1931 Mr. Bentley wrote the book, “Snow Crystals” featuring 2,400 images. Bentley’s love of snowflakes and marvelous work gave him the name, ‘Snowflake Bentley’. There is a wonderful children’s book by that name.

Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Bentley





Can you pick a favorite?  I doubt it, they are truly ‘tiny miracles of beauty’.

Grab your magnifying glass and check out the designs falling in your backyard.



A Necessity Of Life – Dogs

Wags, my first love.

My blogs are usually filled with my fascination with nature supported by research….a learning experience for me and hopefully you. Today I wish to present an observation.

My husband and I have just returned from three weeks of traveling from Michigan to Savannah, Georgia and back. Beside realizing there is truly a southern charm we also observed life with dogs all along the way. Many of our friends and relatives we planned to visit have dogs I was looking forward to seeing again or meeting. We also interacted with people and dogs unknown to us. To prepared for these visits I baked five dozen apple cinnamon dog biscuits.

Our first stop brought us to old friends and a couple of basset hounds. We used to dog sit this goofy couple.   They knew I made dog treats and would be at my door every Saturday morning for a sample. Our human friends were  out of state for a wedding. We  let ourselves in and received a grand welcome and yes treats were expected. We enjoyed our alone time with our floppy earred friends. A day later we welcomed our friends to their own home and had a delightful time with adults and sweet girls.

Good friends.

Our next stop was to visit a cousin and his family’s new companion…a rescue setter of some sort. His children have grown and are at various stages of successful lives. This sweet dog is now the focus of their love and attention and vice versa.

While visiting  my cousin’s home we had the good fortune to have a fabulous breakfast at a french cafe around the corner. I had the greatest lump crab eggs Benedict. I may never taste anything as divine again. At the conclusion of our meal we were asked if we had a dog. With our bill we received an envelope filled with homemade chicken liver dog biscuits. They smelled so good I was tempted to try one. This gift made everyone smile from the waiter to all the customers present. Our canine protector truly welcomed us to the house upon our return.

Our next stop was Gordonsville, VA. Visiting my sisters always involves dogs and biscuits. Sister number 1 has rescued older dogs for years. At present a black and a yellow lab share her home. The three of them make the sweetest love triangle…..they love and care for each other dearly. Upon adoption sister number 1 had  her  black lab treated and cured of heart worm. The yellow lab is now blind and has cataracts. Recently she notice her eye was bulging. After a day with a canine eye specialist and a


shot in the eye the pressure was relieved and everyone comfortable again. Helping dogs in need is one of her life missions.

Sister number 2 has rescued a very abused red doberman who as a puppy was chained to a dog house on a short tether. The two of them are constant companions. She has worked hard with this dog as he may have suffered brain damage when tossed down the stairs. The damage resulted in a great deal of aggressive behavior which has all but disappeared. This is a very close knit family of two.  I love to watch him look at her.

Dog people seem to gravitate toward one another. On our visit I met the first friend my sister number 1 made when she retired to her new home in a new state…an amazing dog lover. Her friend has adopted nine dogs all headed for heaven before she crossed their paths and a chinchilla meant to be snake food. Some of her dogs have special needs and others were considered unadoptable for some reason or another. She has created a loving dog

Sister number always has a bag of treats.

centered home for them. She has a dog sitter for days she must work and leases a 2 acre field for the dogs to be dogs in. In addition she creates dog clothing and writes children’s books about dogs.  This is also a true family… canine and human lives existing because of one another.  I must admit it was fun to watch and walk with the dogs in the field, such sweet souls.

Off on our own we had no more dogs to meet or so we thought. We headed to Savannah with all its charms. As we walked through the cities lovely parks dogs and people were walking and sitting on benches (yes dogs), reading newspapers or just enjoying the nature in each park. Curiously when a dog is present strangers are willing to begin a conversation with you, talking about their dog or sharing a smile.

We stopped at the River St. visitors center  to ask the number one tourist question, “Where is a public restroom?” As I approached the guide we noticed a dog from the window. We were curious as to the breed making one guess then another.  I decided to ask. I opened the door and began a lengthy conversation about this small mixed breed. Four strangers (tour guide from the open window) having a friendly conversation about this little fellow making the day pleasant. We all walked away with smiles.

Further down the street a made for TV movie was being filmed about the Underground Railroad. A perfect setting. An old buggy had been brought in and a small fire burning under one of the brick walkways. The film crew was busy making the area free of twenty first century objects and people but shared the story and scene with us. They were waiting for dark to begin filming. In a large silver truck were cameras, film crew and a beautiful pitbull ready with a smile, a wag of the tail and bright eyes. He was the protector and the object of affection as the staff waited long hours to begin working.

Off to City Market we went. It was here we found an art gallery with original paintings of ‘Pete The Cat’, blue Boston terriers, as well as other fabulous paintings of animals. Outside of the market, sitting on a bench under a tree, was a rather tattered and dirty group of street musicians. They must have played a bit and were now very focused on eating lunch. I noticed a scruffy looking dog sitting behind the bench waiting with his people. Oh no, a dog biscuit store across the way. I asked if I could buy the dog some biscuits and they said I could. Did I have fun choosing all sorts of flavors. Ten dollars later and a donated bottle of water I presented the goods to the fellow in charge.  He was very pleased to give the dog a biscuit and said it always made his dog feel better. Dog, man and I were very happy.

A loving stray joined our life when we were first married.

Dogs bring out the best in people. Total strangers will have pleasant conversations with one another when a dog is present…no cold stares or bumped shoulders. People will exchange a smile or ask for a physical connection by way of a pet or shake of a paw. What we came to realize is that as a species we need the unconditional love of a dog and vice versa. A dog raises ones quality of life. All the dog wants is to love and be loved whether you are a homeless  street musician or successful business woman. I feel humans have the same quest…to be loved and cared for. I miss having a dog very much. With retirement my life has changed as I enjoy the freedom to travel for long periods of time. I am sure however, there will be another dog in my life, the only unknown is, when and how.