With it being winter, and Christmas time as well, I always expect there to be piles and piles of snow by now. However, just enough of a dusting would be OK at this point just to make it feel a little more Christmas like to me.
I have always been mesmerized by snowflakes and especially love the huge ones that make you truly feel like you are inside of a just shaken snow globe. And even though they all are clearly snowflakes when they fall from the sky, there are never two that are alike. They are compared to the likes of human fingerprints with each having its own design. However, all snowflakes do have six sides to them, and their design depends on the air temperature and moisture from the cloud that they originate from.
I did some research and have since learned that in 1887 the world’s largest snowflake fell and was 15” wide and 8” thick. Imagine that coming at you from they sky. It was found in Fort Keogh, Montana.
I grew up ski racing and spent nearly 30 years spending every single winter day out on the slopes teaching ski lessons, practicing, and just playing around. It was always a pleasure to ski while it was snowing, that is unless the weather was below zero and the snow was pelting you in the face. That was not fun, and would be enough to make you retreat to the indoors. But during those years I always was able to appreciate the beauty of it and all that it has to offer.
When it gets really cold, birds sometimes have no choice but to eat the snow to keep hydrated. You’ll often see birds during the winter doing this when it gets really cold. I try to refill a saucer outside and keep my pond with some open water for the birds to drink. My ducks and chickens usually take over and walk past their heated water bowls to check out the other water sources around.
Snow, while a pain to clean up and keep shoveled and what not, is actually made mostly of trapped air. The rest of it is pretty much ice. The combination of both make a really great insulating layer for all of your garden plants. In fact your plants are more likely to survive a harsh winter with a layer of snow on them than if they were bare and left to try to survive the winter winds and freezing rains.
Luckily for most, snow doesn’t last forever. In fact, you may begin to see some flowers such as crocus, snowdrop, and winter aconite bloom before the snow is fully melted. I’ve had years where my daffodils would bloom surrounded by snow.
Do your best to enjoy it, be careful shoveling and don’t forget to refill your bird feeders to help our feathered friends make it through winter too. And above all I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year.
Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.