Johnny-on-the-Spot …by John Foster …
Recently, there were a few snowflakes floating around and I caught one out of the corner of my eye.
It landed on the black trailer lining and it was an amazingly designed hexagon.
The snowflake looked like one of those we used to cut out of paper in grade-school art class.
I was struck by the intricate design which is so often lost on us when trillions of them are falling and making our driving a real adventure.
All true snowflakes have 6 arms or sides.
The frozen water molecules that form a snowflake are shaped like the letter “V” and when they freeze together, we get the crystalized hexagons.
Snowflakes can’t happen without pollen or dust.
It’s those tiny particles that often make us sneeze or sniff that anchor the water droplets which make snowflakes.
Snow can fall when ground temperatures are above freezing, especially when the air aloft is super cold.
Snow isn’t actually white.
The ice crystals that make up snow are translucent and the light passing through them results in a white light.
White snow is okay to taste.
Stay away from the yellow snow, though.
Those fluffy flakes fall at speeds between 1 and 4 miles per hour.
Large, heavier flakes can reach speeds of 9 miles an hour but it normally takes a snowflake one hour to reach the ground since they are formed at such high altitudes.
The biggest snowflake was reported to be 15 inches across.
That would be like a dish towel fluttering to Earth!
Where I currently live in southern Indiana, we get an average of 15-20 inches of snow a year.
I spent time in the USAF in Sondrestromfiord, Greenland and they only average about 21 inches of snow annually.
Usually, the only snow-free months there are June, July and August.
By the way, it is never too cold for it to snow.
Growing up in northern Ohio, as kids, we used to play in the snow all the time.
Furnace vents were always covered with wet gloves in the winter in northern Ohio.
Rugs inside the kitchen door would be lined with our winter boots.
We had a small hill in our backyard that went into the Doggett’s yard and we’d ride those sleds and saucers for hours.
Pink cheeks and runny noses were standard on those winter days.
As we got older, Dad bought us a toboggan and the I could ride with all 3 sisters down the hill.
Sometimes we’d sit upright but opther times we’d stack like cordwood and since I was the oldest, I was always on the bottom.
Baby sister Jerry would ride on top but she’d usually fall off long before we’d stop.
We even built ramps out of logs and snow to increase the air time on our rides.
I’m actually amazed any of my sisters were able to bear children as adults.
Frankly, some of the best sledding occurred when we didn’t have snow.
A good freezing rain would often provide the slickest slickest sledding surface and often allowed us to ride clear to the creek in the woods.
Some of the guys I ran around with with play a game of football on a snowy lawn between the Berry’s and the Geary’s on Keller Drive.
The snow sometimes provide a bit more cushion when you were tackled to the frozen turf…but not much.
One winter, I made snowballs, wrapped them in plastic shirt bags from Bogner’s Dry-Cleaners and stacked them in a box and stuck them in the freezer in the garage.
My plan was to attack unsuspecting neighbors with a snowball bombing in July.
However, when I unpacked them on a hot, summer day, they had turned to ice balls and even I knew that the joke would be lost on the person hit with one of those.
I wound up with some slush that I threw at a backyard tree.
In northern Ohio, there was an unspoken rivalry among neighbors to see who could clear the snow quickest from the driveway after a big storm.
Snow-free asphalt or cement was the goal and it would also keep the basketball from getting wet when shooting hoops…unless you missed your shot and the sphere rolled into the snowy yard.
We kids used to walk through the Eastview neighborhood with our snow shovels and make a few bucks clearing driveways before we ended up at the Berry’s our my house to play basketball.
I still think a new fallen snow is worth the inconvenience, especially when the tree branches have fluffy, white sleeves, before the wind and sun disturb the scenery.
Noting that first crocus sticking it’s colorful bloom through the snow by the house is always a sure sign that spring will eventually win out.
I’m a fan of the 4 seasons we enjoy in the Midwest but here in southern Indiana I typically get just enough winter to amuse me.
Remind me of that the next time I’m driving in a howling winter blast.