Monday, March 11, 2013

Little Learning: Exploring Snowflake Bentley

When I was younger, I wanted to be an interior designer. I memorized the prices of furniture off the Ikea catalogues. I drew up all sorts of plans for my bedroom. I saved up, and bought issues of "Home and Decor" to pour over their glossy spreads. I borrowed books from the library, and read about how to hang your picture frames and how to DIY your own furniture. I even took part in Ikea's design your bedroom contest, and was over the moon on being able to choose furniture to place in the store's display.

But when it came to choosing universities and courses after my A levels, I followed my parents' advice. Which was to choose something more mainstream. And perhaps after I had earned my university degree, I could dabble in design if I was still interested. At least this way, I had a degree to fall back on. In the end, I became a teacher, and I got my design fix by making pretty powerpoints and designing the covers of the students' learning materials. In retrospect, I didn't regret going into teaching, and probably didn't have the flair to hold my own in the interior design industry. However, I do still hold great admiration for those who find and pursue their passions, and are not afraid to take the path less trodden.

Which brings me to this book on Wilson Bentley. In a farming community, this man chose to be different, and dedicated his life to celebrating and capturing beauty around him:
"The average dairy farmer gets up at dawn because he has to go to work in the cow yard. I get up at dawn, too. But it is because I want to find some leaf, hung with dew; or a spider web which the dew has made into the most delicate rope of pearls... I take my camera with me, get down on my knees in the wet grass, and photograph these exquisite bits of nature. Because I do this I can show these lovely things to people who never would have seen them without my help. They will get their daily quart of milk, all right. Other farmers will attend to that. But I think I am giving them something which is just as important." - W.A. Bentley. 

Junior J and I enjoyed reading this book on the life of Bentley, and how he managed to figure out, through an arduous process of trial and error, the way to capture photographs of snowflakes. As a parent, it was also heartwarming to see how Bentley's parents dared to believe in his dream, investing their savings in the camera that helped him to photograph those delicate crystals. 

Aside from enjoying the book, I printed pictures (taken by Wilson Bentley) off the official Snowflake Bentley website, and got the boy to match them. We had an interesting time, looking at the details of these snowflakes, and I've uploaded our printable here. Also, I made him some count and clip cards for him to work on counting snowflakes from 11 to 25 (get our free printable here).

Ok, gotta run. Here's to a blessed week!

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