Are you still embracing winter?  Looking forward to spring?  A little of both?

Here in the Midwest we have had a moderate amount of snow and a lot of days with frigid temperatures.  As I write this post, it is below freezing outside.

I’m not going to lie and say that I’m still relishing winter.  At this point, spring can’t come fast enough for me!

But there’s a silver lining to all of this: There’s still time to cozy up with the kids and read a few more winter picture books!

We have some Jan Brett books checked out of the library right now and those are always favorites around here.  Several of them are set in winter.  My son’s favorite is The Mitten.  The Snowy Day by Keats always makes us smile. We also love Katy and the Big Snow by Burton.

One book that we absolutely love is Snowflake Bentley by Briggs Martin.

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley was a homeschooled kid.  His mother taught him at home until he was fourteen years old. He attended school for only a few years.

Bentley was a curious person and a self-motivated learner.  Not only did he spend countless hours studying nature; he also read through his mother’s entire set of encyclopedias.

This curiosity caused him to glance upward at the falling snow of Vermont, where he lived, and see more than just precipitation. He saw something magical in the details of each unique snow flake. And he wanted the rest of the world to see it too.

He started out attempting to draw snow crystals by hand, which, needless to say, was a frustrating endeavor.  He eventually convinced his parents to spend their hard-earned savings on a camera, thus beginning his journey into the world of photography.

He tirelessly experimented with his pictures, making many mistakes along the way until he finally got things right.  Bentley was one of the first known photographers of snowflakes.

Bentley’s happiest days were snow days. He marched out into snowstorms and captured more than 5,000 images  of crystals in his lifetime. He described snowflakes as “tiny miracles of beauty” and “ice flowers.”

“I found that snowflakes were masterpieces of design,” Bentley said. “No one design was ever repeated.  When a snowflake melted … just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind.”

He worked painstakingly and patiently for long hours to memorialize the details of each distinctive and stunning ice crystal he captured.

Most people at the time didn’t seem to care and even laughed at Bentley’s attempts to photograph commonplace snow crystals.  But Bentley continued to develop his art, despite the criticism.

Bentley’s dedication inspires me.  I marvel at his patience to overcome obstacles and lovingly labor over each delicate, fleeting snowflake he worked with.

Although Bentley’s work wasn’t immediately appreciated by his neighbors, it is valued in modern times.  Many people who want to learn about snowflakes today start with Bentley’s book, Snow Crystals.

Even though photography equipment has improved over time, Bentley’s work in photographing snowflakes in the late 1800s was done in such an excellent way that “hardly anybody else bothered to photograph snowflakes for almost 100 years,” according to Kenneth Libbrecht, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology.

I am in awe of Bentley’s character. His dogged determination. How he saw the acute beauty and wonder in something so ordinary and fleeting.  I am inspired by his pursuit of excellence.

Shoveling “tiny miracles of beauty” off our driveway!

At this point in the winter, I’m not always very happy to see snow falling outside my window.  But I’m glad to be reminded that it’s not just something to shovel off my driveway.  Each flake is an intricately beautiful work of art.

—Amy

Photo Credit: Snowflakebentley.com Final picture courtesy of author.