all of a sudden, the snow is falling, and without a moment’s pause, i’m out in the garden. the birdbath is frozen, and it’s almost midnight. this feels like dreaming. i’m catching snowflakes with frozen fingers, they’ll turn red and sting soon, but not yet. it’s the sort of clumping snow that i don’t expect will linger long, brief and brilliant beauty, and each flake is half the size of my palm, or, almost. my hair is soaking, i can’t stop shivering, i’m only wearing a skirt and a turtleneck, but i couldn’t care less, there are very few things better than this, and soon enough i’ll borrow my brother’s coat.
there are 41 different types of snow crystal, apparently. stellar, sector, simple, sheath, each requiring a particular set of circumstances for its creation/crystallization. the most commonly spotted snowflake is the symmetrical, six armed, star-shaped, stellar plate. when i was a little girl, i’d fold a piece of a4 paper in half, and with scissors i’d cut patterns into it, unfold, and then cover the paper in silver glitter and glue. they never quite looked right, but i did try.
each winter, the japanese coastal city of otaru plays host to the snow light path festival, or, otaru yuki akari no michi. compacted snow and ice candles, each with a hollowed-out centre, line the city streets, and when set aglow, they light up something like lanterns, amongst snow sculptures, icicles, ice-shrines. families can buy sweets, or steaming hot ramen from a stall, and they can wander down candle-lit canal paths, say their prayers, and then sleep at a ryokan, if they like, once the night is done, rosy-cheeked and smiling. for years, i have wanted to go, and for as long as i can remember, i have loved the snow, how it softens, stills, silences. it pays to forever remember that there are snowflakes and sunbeams in this world, though neither are quite of it.