Just as we move into another Whitby spring, we get one last gust of winter, with snowfall this April first. Appropriately, Patrick Meade‘s blog for this month is the deceptively simple and wonderfully charming tale of a little Snowflake falling from Earth to sky and living a thousand lives all the way down.
Hey, Little Snowflake, what are you up to?
Hi, Grand Snowflake. Not much. Like you, I’m just falling.
I know you’re falling, but what else are you doing?
Oh, nothing. Just waiting, I guess.
Until I reach Earth.
Would you like to play a game while we’re falling?
Sure, which one?
How about a game of What If?
Oh, I like that. But do we have time?
Sure, we have plenty of time, Little One, before that happens.
Who goes first?
You, Little Snowflake, you go first.
Okay then, let’s see. Hmmmm. Ah…ah…What if I were a river, or a puff of a dandelion? I could end up in places that I never thought possible: a wave on a pebbled beach by a piece of driftwood, and on the bough of a tree with baby robins. I would be part of their nest of twigs and straw.
I’ve never tried one of those, Little Snowflake.
And, and, maybe I might end up in a poem about a cloud. Matter of fact, I might be a cloud. You want to hear my poem?
Okay. We still got time?
Of course. We’re still a ways before our journey ends. I think.
I’m listening, little one. I’m all crystals.
Okay. Here goes. It’s called Little Cloud:
Wow! Wow! Look at me.
Way up here. So high in the sky.
I am floating. I am flying. Am dancing along.
I am cumulus. I am spinning. Am twirling.
I am moisture. Mist on a merry go round.
Am color. Am wind.
My! You got any more?
Yep. But it’s not a poem or a song. I like to look at the trains down there. What if I could be on a train? Is that okay?
Yes. Of course. You still have time for a train ride. But not a long one.
Okay. Ah… I want to be at the back of a train with a big grain car that’s wrapped in blue burlap tarp sunk down in the middle. The smell is all around me and I feel so good because it’s real cold out. And there’s tons of snow pals hunkered down on the cover below me, and I am tucked away inside a slatted corner, a little wooden nook. It’s like being in a belly, and the wind can’t get at us, but there are tiny cracks to peek through, and we are passing through fields and over bridges and we’re slowing down by a school in a town with old corn and fences. There’s children in long green coats and some have short brown coats and boots and they are standing under an oak tree, waving. They’re singing and throwing snowballs, and they’re screaming hello. But now others are waving goodbye. I don’t like it when they’re waving goodbye–Wait, wait! I don’t want to be on a train. I don’t like it when the trains leave. I want to be something else. I want to be a, ah, ah, I want to be a fluffy white sheep; curly and baaing; that roams in the valleys where the shepherds yodel. But not up in the high valleys where the big hills and the mountains live. There’s too much snow up there, and sometimes it gets so piled up that it crashes down in an avalanche. And you can’t yodel in an avalanche. I don’t want to be in an avalanche. What if I could be, ah, ah, in a person’s mind? What if I could be a thought? I want to be a thought in someone’s mind. Can I be a thought?
Sure, you can, Little Snowflake. You can be any thought you want to be.
Maybe, maybe I can be a thought in the head of someone walking or someone sitting on a bench by a brook; or if I were in a mind of a writer or a poet, or someone doodling under a lantern at a kitchen table. Yes, in a cabin. And snowflakes would huddle up on the windowsill and peer in. And more would gather at the door just like the kids at that school yard, and I would invite some in through a gap at the bottom to dance around the table, but not come too close to the glow because then we would melt. It is not nice to disappear. You want a turn now, Grand Snowflake?
No, little one. I like your what ifs. I have not tried any of those before.
Are you sure you don’t want a turn?
Yes, you carry on.
Then my next what if is… I know! What if I could be like an acorn, with its seed ready to crawl out and blossom into its own world. Like that oak tree. And a crow would find me beneath an oak, maybe where the school kids played, and hold me in its beak and carry me to the edge of a forest. And another bigger bird like a hawk or an owl would scream in and I am dropped, and I would bounce off some rocks and end up on some moss. My shell would crack, but just a little bit. I could see some light and hear bits of Autumn. And then dark clouds would hover for a long time. And then, as I lie there, the frigid hands of Winter come to gather me, and then…and then daffodils and tulips come by to lie beside me. Summer comes, and I would get very hot, but my seed could not get out. I’d lie there for so long that I would be covered in leaves and cobwebs. Autumn would come and summer again. The heat would burn me, and I would just lie there on the moss. Then one morning the wind would come, and it would not settle. I would be shifted from one landscape to another until the wind stops and a bird would take me far away into the sky and I would end up in a desert. I would see another acorn lying beside me, and as I look around there’s another and another. We’d all be spun into yellow swirls; just a collection of acorns piling up against the dunes. And as we languish in that broiling sun, one acorn stirs and says she wishes that she had scribbled a mark on the desert floor to escape through the winding and relentless seams of sand. I think one morning she would say,
“I would like to see what is over there; over that hill; if for no other reason than it would feel good to do so. It would not be right if I stayed here forever. Or worse, if the sand sets its cloak over all of us. I do not want to lie dormant. I want to have branches and leaves and acorns, and…”
Then with a little nudge, she moves. Maybe it comes from the wind or maybe the sky, or even earth, but one evening as dusk came to visit, I’ll hear, “what if,” and that little acorn will stand up and leave us. She’ll just leave us, glance back and say,
“Oak trees could take too long to grow in a desert. Or maybe not at all. Or maybe not at all…”
My! That’s quite a story, Little Snowflake. Snowflake? Where are you? Where have you gone? Are you still falling? I hope you are.