A snowflake is formed when water molecules in the air freeze and bind together forming a six-sided shape that can look like six feathers attached in a pinwheel or like a plate with six sides to its rim.
A snowflake is a delicate and beautiful thing.
A driveway full of 1 billion-gazillion flakes is a menace. And a nation inundated with countless flakes during the holiday season is a nightmare at best — a nuisance to the degree of the eighth level of hell actually.
As if getting around outside bound in layer upon layer of clothing to guard us against the cold of winter wasn't difficult enough, then the snow falls. Then we have to slog our way through that, too, in a waddling shuffle of weariness and worry. The snow pulls at our straining legs. It unbalances us, shifting under our feet. The air from its cold environment frostbites our lungs. Shoveling snow in these conditions is treacherous.
Magnify this problem a hundredfold, and we see the problems cities and regions have when deluged with snow.
Recent snowfall in the midwestern and eastern portions of the U.S. disrupted Christmas for millions of people as power lines were downed, roads closed and public transportation systems shut down. With the grounding of airlines and closure of whole airports, flights and lives were put on hold even in states and countries not directly hit by this massive storm or any snow at all.
Now a snowstorm is inundating the western states. From Washington to Montana, south to Nevada and Arizona, snows are burying travel routes, shutting down essential services and starting out the new year with more catastrophe.
Maybe, though, just maybe, this isn't all bad. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned here.
A single snowflake is a fragile thing, yes. Easily melted on the tongue or by a warm breath of air or killed by the hundreds with a flame thrower. However, united in a deluge of tiny flakes, snow can conquer a nation or a world. That is an inspiring thing.
A single human is a fragile thing also, with little power in the larger scope of the world. But united, humans can conquer any problem.
It's like how one person alone in a severe snowstorm is likely to die from the elements, but 10 people can share energy to build a makeshift fort and huddle together for warmth to survive. That's encouraging.
Think of the change we can create, the life-altering improvements we can produce, if we work hard in cooperation with our neighbors. Add our neighbor's neighbors, and their neighbors, and we can make a far-reaching difference in the human condition.
Picture it: a united front of people from all walks of life along the Hi-Line, banding together shoulder to shoulder and gathering Montanans to our ranks as our momentum builds. Armed with snow shovels and grain scoops and a tractor or two (or 2,000) we could push this snow clear to the Wyoming border.
Oh my great-aunt's garters, this would be a thing of beauty.
Gather the able-bodied and yoke their strength.
Mount plows on wheelchairs and have the chair-bound bend to it. Better yet, have my husband and the other one-armed folks who can't run a shovel for nothing help push the wheelchair-plows. That'll put some welly into it, as the Brits would say.
Don't let youth be wasted on the young. Give the toddlers mini-shovels with training wheels, and they'll gain 2-pounds in load capacity. Every little bit helps.
Tell the elderly, "Walker, schmalker, prove you're still the greatest generation and put a little oomph into that scooper."
Together we can make it happen, like a human storm raging south across the state. Together we can make a snowless Montana.
(I see visions in green at http://viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)