Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Wonder of Snowflakes!

Snowflakes, are one of God's finest masterpieces. “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions.” Psalm 104:24; 148:1-5.
This of course includes SNOW.

So far we have had 34.8 inches of snow this month of January. The previous January record was 26 inches in 1947, the first year statistics were kept at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

This January's snow is also the most for any single month. The previous high was 32.5 inches in February 1967. By the way, February is typically the snowiest month on Long Island, according to the National Weather Service.

With 19.8 inches that fell in last month's blizzard, this season's total so far is 54.6 inches. The record was set in 1995-96 with 90.75 inches, followed by 2004-05's 78.5 inches. Right now we are in 11th place, but almost two months of winter are still ahead. The average Long Island winter brings 32 inches, according to Newsday's January 28, 2011 paper.

So, as you can see, it has been a great winter, and it isn't over yet!

Some who live in a fast-paced society and who must travel may view snow merely as an obstacle. Yet, countless others view snow as a delight, producing a winter wonderland that opens up opportunities for special activities.

What do you know about snow? In effect, that was a question Jehovah asked Job:“Have you entered into the storehouses of the snow, or do you see even the storehouses of the hail, which I have kept back for the time of distress, for the day of fight and war?”

Oh, we know what a lot of it looks like, perhaps from photos of snowbanks or because we have actually seen plenty of snow, especially this year. But what of individual snowflakes? Do you know what they look like, maybe having examined them at their source?

Some men have spent decades studying and photographing snowflakes. A snowflake may be composed of a hundred delicate ice crystals in a variety of beautiful designs. The book Atmosphere says: “The endless variety of snowflakes is legendary, and although scientists insist that no law of nature forbids their duplication, two identical flakes have never been found. One search of epic proportions was conducted by . . . Wilson A. Bentley, who spent more than 40 years examining and photographing snowflakes through a microscope without ever finding two that were exactly alike.” And even if, in a rare case, two appeared to be twins, would that really alter the wonder of the staggering variety of snowflakes?

Each snowflake becomes a masterpiece of construction. Amazingly, no two have been discovered that are exactly alike, and there are enough possible combinations of patterns to suggest that there will never be such a discovery. Yet, all are six-sided in shape!

Snow—its origin, flake growth, and design—staggers the mind of scientists.

What is snow? Snow is a clustering of ice crystals crafted from the water vapor in the air. Temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure help sculpture the beautifully symmetrical shapes of ice crystals. When the temperature near the ground is above 32° F. (0° C.) snow may reach us as rain. But if the temperature is below 32° F., the tiny crystals will clump together to form a snowflake.

But there must be something that the moisture can be formed around, something that acts as a “seed.” What can be used? Any microscopic particles floating in the air will do—dust, salt, or even pollution. Around these nuclei, ice crystals will grow into flat six-pointed stars, hexagonal pillars, or sparkling needles. As snow tumbles slowly earthward from as high as six miles (10 km), it may collide with other crystals and stick to them, or it may shatter, forming more “seeds” for more crystals.

Here are two statistics that may surprise you: A cubic foot (.028 cu m) of snow may contain 10 million snowflakes. And it has been estimated that up to one half of the earth’s land surface and 10 percent of the sea, about 48 million square miles (124 million sq km), may at times be under this wintry blanket. With all that snow, is it possible that no two snowflakes are alike? Yes!

To try to understand why, let us consider just one more set of facts. Millions of water molecules, which can be arranged in many different ways, may form a single ice crystal. And it takes from one to more than a hundred of these ice crystals to make one snowflake. According to Charles Knight, physicist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, if you put all these numbers in a computer, you would find that there are still more possible combinations of molecules in each snowflake than there have been snowflakes in all earth’s history.

In addition, the air around a flake shapes its growth. As mentioned earlier, moisture, temperature, and barometric pressure sculpture snow. However, wind molds its shape too. All four factors may vary from moment to moment. Falling snow may pass through air masses of varying temperature. The wind may blow it through any number of temperature and humidity ranges in its downward journey. And since no two flakes are likely to follow the same path to earth, each one should indeed be unique.

Besides snow being beautiful to look at, there are vital benefits for us and the earth.

Just as many enjoy a soft, warm blanket on a cold winter night, the earth has its own winter blanket. Thanks to snow, the fluctuations in temperature of the soil are moderated. The soil holds in the heat it had absorbed before it was covered. Thus seeds are protected and crops will grow for the next harvesttime.

The earth is not just insulated by the snow blanket, however; it is also fertilized. How so? Because of the vital nitrates that are deposited by the snow. In the 1970’s it was estimated that an average snowfall on prairie farms would deposit about $20 worth of nitrates per acre.

And did you know that snow is referred to as the most effective “dam” of any kind? The water is held back or stored in the form of snow. In this form it will wait until it is released by melting in the spring. Hence, snow holds back water as a dam does. Even then, thanks to its ability to reflect the sun’s rays, the snow will melt away slowly, and in this way much of the water will filter its way down into the soil instead of just flowing off.

The Bible outlined these benefits of rain and snow by stating: “The pouring rain descends, and the snow . . . [and] actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater.” (Isaiah 55:10)

Yes, for many of earth’s inhabitants, the water they drink and the food they eat, and even the electricity they use, may be directly or indirectly a result of tapping “the storehouse of the snow.”

Indeed, the more scientists study snowflakes, the more they appreciate, as The New York Times reported January 6, 1987: “Snowflakes obey mathematical laws of surprising subtlety.” Do you not agree that snowflakes are a tribute to the power and wisdom of their Maker? “For to the snow he says, ‘Fall earthward.’”—Job 37:6.

By growing snow crystals in the lab under controlled conditions, scientists have discovered that their shapes are determined largely by temperature and humidity. This picture summarises the crystal shapes formed under different conditions.

12-sided snowflake

This is actually two snowflakes joined together - one rotated at 30 degrees relative to the other. Such snowflakes are quite rare.

May this blog about snowflakes help us better appreciate our Creator and his magnificent qualities of love, wisdom, justice, and power.

And, may we, like snowflakes, work together, to accomplish a lot!

Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragil things. But just look at what they can do when they stick together."

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Days - A Time To Contemplate God's Great Works!

My last blog spoke about the fun things we can do during this winter season and I encourage you to comment if you can suggest any other ideas. My blogging friend Sparrow, reminded me too how snow days can be a "guilt-free"day for staying home to rejuvenate, and I couldn't agree more. Even our creator Jehovah God encourages us to do that.

Some time ago during my personal Bible reading I came across a scripture that I couldn't wait to share. It says, "For to the snow he says, 'Fall earthward'. And to the downpour of rain, even to the downpour of strong rains. On the hand of every earthling man he puts a seal For every mortal man to know his work." Job 37: 6,7. Infact that whole chapter and also Chapters 38-42 magnifies Jehovah's greatness through his creative works. So just as Jehovah informed Job of his wonderful works, and to think about them, he does so with us as well through the pages of his word the Bible, and his glorious creation. What a great time to do that, when we are "snowed in" to learn and think deeply about our magnificent God, and his outstanding works, which we know only the fringes of.

"By the breath of God the ice is given."

"For to the snow he says, 'Fall earthward'

"He is giving snow like wool. Hoarfrost he scatters just like ashes."

Today, January 12, 2011 proves to be one of those snowed in days. It started snowing last night about 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. and it is still coming down. I'm in my glory and I know Sparrow is too.

Take some time today to do things you wouldn't ordinarily do like; Sleep late. Watch a good movie snuggled under a blanket. Bake some cookies. Start a blog, or a scrapbook. Organize your photo's. Take pictures of the snow. Go for a nature walk in the snow. Break out an old board game. I haven't done that in years. Make a snowman, or woman. Or course shovel your driveway if you want to get out the next day. After you do that, you can come in to warm up by the fireplace drinking a cup of hot coca as you sit looking out of window watching the snow fall.

A priority to this list of course is to think about Jehovah. Contemplate his great creative works. Take time to look at each branch of a tree or bush that is laden with snow. Think about his wonderful cardinal qualities of love, wisdom, justice and power. If we enjoy the snow, he must too, because we are created in his image, he gave us things he knew that we would delight in.

Perhaps we can look up some of his qualities in the "Insight Book" on this snowy day, or how about look up information on snow and ice, it's there. This would be a good day to work on my return visit book, that will be a big job. I need about 3 snowed in days for that.

Snow is a four letter word. It is a gift from God and he's stopping all mankind from their work to take time to think about him, the provider of every good and perfect gift. Enjoy your snow day whatever you do!

This is Raven-as the crow flies!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter: Cold, Snow, Ice, Sleet, Hail, Rain, Sun - Fun!

The title of this blog perfectly describes the many weather patterns that occur during the winter time, yes at times, even in the same day! I love it! I am not alone in this feeling of unrestrained joy. There are some bloggers among us who at the sight of the first snow flake emit a gleeful smile and a jubilant cry of ecstasy, then their are others who just say "oh no not again, yuck"! Not me, I say bring it on. To me it's a beautiful gift from Jehovah, and Jehovah is so kind, he pleases everyone. Also, remember winter is with us only about 3 months, so enjoy it while it is here.

What kind of things can you do that are fun? Take a look at this beautiful Currier and Ives scene of people skating in Central Park.

You sure can't do that in the

What about skiing, or snowboarding? That's exciting, and you need the wintertime and the snow to do it.
Also, think about this. How could we ever make snowmen without the snow? Snowmen fall from heaven unassembled. It's our job to put them together, especially with our children and grandchildren. Think about all the fun, and memories that brings.

It's not just humans who take delight in this time of year but also the animals. Seeing them frolicking in the snow underscores Jehovah's happy, humorous personality.

Isn't he the cutest? Now do you like winter? He sure looks like he's having fun.

This looks like Romeo. Look how much fun he's
having. I think he hears Sparrow calling him to come into the house. He's saying "just five more minutes, I'm trying to catch that squirrel"?

I must admit there are times in the winter that can be challenging, like scraping the ice off of the car.

Much could be said about the inconveniences of winter, of the cold and ice, of the frost and snow. Winter often reminds one of spinning car wheels caught in slippery ruts, of grinding engines that are slow to start, if they start at all in sub-zero temperatures. Perhaps you think of the hurried pace through slush and sleet, of freezing fingers, ears and feet.

But, I prefer to think of this time of year as a time of beauty and fun, doing things you can't do or enjoy at any other time of the year, like sleigh riding down a big snowy hill, or shaping a snowman or two, especially with young ones. Skating on frozen ponds. Skiing down powder like slopes. The simple pleasure of stepping on thin frozen ice formed on the road, or driveway, just to hear it crackling under your feet. A walk in the quiet, snow laden woods, meditating on the beauty of God's creation. Reading a book next to a blazing fireplace either alone, or better yet, with a young child. There is nothing better than coming home from being out in the ministry, feeling cold, putting on the fireplace, making a cup of hot chocolate, looking out of my picture window at the breathtaking grandeur of the soft, crystal white blanket of snow.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, I could go on, but I won't. I have to save some things to say for the next blog.

For those who are not crazy about the winter, I do hope I have encourage you to think differently about it. After all, it is a gift to us from Jehovah, and we will have it forever.

Genesis 8:22: “For all the days the earth continues, seed sowing and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, will never cease" I am so happy!!!!

This is Raven-as the crow flies

Saturday, January 1, 2011

January 1st, 2011

January, "There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance."- William Sharp

January, the beginning of the new year and a time when many make New Year resolutions.

January was established as the first month of the year by the Roman calandar. It was named after the god Janus (Latin word for door). Janus had two faces which allowed him to look both backwards into the old year and forwards into the new one at the same time. He was the 'spirit of the opening'. This symbolism can easily be associated with the month known by many as the start of a new year which brings new opportunities. We cast out the old and welcome in the new. It is the time when many reflect on events of the previous year and often resolve to redress or improve some aspect of daily life or personal philosophy."

In the very earliest Roman calandar there were no months of January or February at all. The ancient Roman calandar had only 10 months and the new year started the year on March 1st. To the Romans 10 was a very important number. Even when January (or Januarius as the Romans called it) was added, The New Year continued to start in March. It remained so in England and her colonies until 200 years ago.

The Anglo-Saxons called the first month Wolf monath because wolves came into the villages in winter in search for food.

"In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1st to be the beginning of the new year. During the Middle Ages, the Church remained opposed to celebrating New Year's Day. January 1st has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for only about the past 400 years."

In the northern half of the world, January is usually the coldest month of the year.Nature is quiet. Birds travel less, and such animals as bears and woodchucks sleep both day andnight. Plants rest in preparation for the next growing season. In the southern half of the world, January is usually the warmest month of the year. Plants grow and animals are active.

This time of year has a beauty all it's own. Take the time to enjoy it. Don't wait until tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come. This is a good time to share with you a beautiful poem relating to this thought. I hope you will enjoy it.

This Moment:

I may never see tomorrow; there's no written guarantee,

And things that happened yesterday belong to history.

I cannot predict the future, and I cannot change the past.

I have just the present moment; I must treat it as my last.

I must use this moment wisely for it soon will pass away,

And be lost to me forever as a part of yesterday.

I must exercise compassion, help the fallen to their feet,

Be a friend unto the friendless, make an empty life complete.

I must make this moment precious for it will not come again,

And I can never be content with things that might have been.

Kind words I fail to say this day may ever be unsaid,

For I know not how short may be the path that lies ahead.

The unkind things I do today may never be undone,

And friendships that I fail to win may nevermore be won.

I may not have another chance on bended knee to pray,

And thank my God with humble heart for giving me this day.

I may never see tomorrow, but this moment is my own.

It's mine to use or cast aside; the choice is mine, alone.

I have just this precious moment in the sunlight of today,

Where the dawning of tomorrow meets the dusk of yesterday.

-Paul F. Barnett

Especially, may we use this time, this moment, to be busy in spiritual activity. Since this is a new year perhaps we can encourage our neighbors who are making New Year resolutions to think about studying the Bible.

May we too set spiritual goals that will draw us closer to Jehovah, and to one another, and that will help us maintain our joy in serving him.

January, a time of beauty, a Currier and Ives scene, a time of serene peacfulness and delightful memories, that only winter can bring.

This is Raven-as the crow flies!