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Posted 11-29-2010 at 04:38 AM by Steve Bucknell
At first light I am downstairs looking out. It is beginning to snow. Redgrove’s words have stuck in my head: “Out of this passage-way you must dress in it.” I take off my dressing-gown and walk to the side of the house to check the temperature; it hovers around freezing. My feet on the stepping-stones of the path are not cold and leave perfect prints. I’m amazed that I don’t feel any chill. The snow deliquesces on my shoulders forming a warm slick pelt. I walk across the springy white lawn and wipe the face of the ice mirror. I skip back into the house and make myself a cup of tea. When I look out again my footprints are already gone.

For the next hour it gets lighter and the snow falls with a regular rhythm. The stand of conifers across the road is transformed into a Gothic cathedral of pinnacles containing inner mazes of filigree whiteness.

I consult The Book of the Winter and find this nice anatomy:

Of the Snow

Out of these small vaprous drops the snow is first generated. First of all, you see a small drop, as big as a single sand. This is augmented or increased by the fog...Then it freezes and splits asunder, so that you see the figure of a star, which yet is still frozen together, until in time it is quite pointed or divided asunder one from the other; and then you see a star with six points, which points are not yet quite frozen, because there are still hanging some wet drops between the points, until it at length assumes the perfect form of a star, with points serrated at the sides, like ferns, on the points whereof still hang some drops...which are lost at last, and so it is turned into an exact and perfect star, which is seen in the severest frosts so long until it loseth all its points. As to the many sorts of snow....I have made these following observations and distinctions...

The snow that falleth where it is tolerably cold and rainy withal...falls like unto small roses, needles and small corns: when the cold weather doth remit, the snow falleth like stars, with many points, like the leaves of ferne...When it is very cold, but not windy withal, the snow falleth like stars, in a cluster because the wind cannot blow them asunder.

F.Martens. Voyage to Spitzbergen.
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