A few weeks ago the sweet girl and I re-read the wonderful Caldecott-award winning Snowflake Bentley, a picture book written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian. This is a book we loved last winter, but this year it's captured the sweet girl's imagination even more.
Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley was a pioneer in micro-photography. Simply put, he spent most of his life perfecting the technique of photographing incredibly tiny things. His special love was snowflakes.
A few weeks ago, not long after we read the book, S. and I were taking a walk together one afternoon in the midst of a gentle snowfall. The flakes were falling fast enough to thrill us, but slow enough that they left only a gentle dusting on my black coat. The coat turned out to be a perfect backdrop for the flakes, and we found that by looking...really, really looking with attention...we could see some of the amazing shapes of the individual snow crystals. We marveled over their exquisite, extravagant quick-melting uniqueness.
We love the artwork in Snowflake Bentley, but S. was disappointed this time around that there weren't more actual photographs by Bentley himself. I confess I wanted to see more too. So for Christmas, I decided to give her a copy of Snowflakes in Photographs by W.A. Bentley (Dover Publications). It's filled with page after page of nothing but his beautifully photographed snowflakes. 72 plates of over 850 snowflakes -- not his whole collection (the man was clearly in love with snow!) -- but still a huge and beautiful sampling.
I wondered if this was an odd present to get my six year old. I also thought it might get lost among the glitzier presents of toys, arts and crafts. It did get a bit lost on present-opening day, but since then she's gone back to it several times. And last night, when the high school senior I'm mentoring was over to discuss her senior project, S. kept running into the living room to show off some of her favorite gifts. Imagine my delight when she brought out the Snowflake book and turned through page after page, enjoying the admiring comments of the very kind and thoughtful high school student. "There are no two exactly alike!" the sweet girl proclaimed with joy. And of course she keeps wanting to play the "what's your favorite?" game, having us each choose our favorite design per page.
The images are copyright free so can actually be used for artwork. I've already got some ideas brewing. I find myself wanting to get out sketch pad and pencils in an attempt to capture some of these amazing designs. How good of God to bless the world with such gorgeousness. How good of Wilson Bentley to spend his life capturing bits of that gorgeousness for posterity...and for my little girl and me.