Monday, December 7, 2009

Infinity in the Palm of Your Mitten



Snowflake BentleyTo see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
--from "Auguries of Innocence", by William Blake




Do you remember catching snowflakes in your mittens and trying to really see them before they melted from your breath? I love this biography of a dreamer who, instead of growing out of his wonder at snowflakes, developed his passion for their infinite beauty and variety into a life calling. My kids get that. I think they bonded with this odd, long-ago child who wanted to study snowflakes more than anything. What a triumph that he grew up into a man who found a way to share what he saw with the world! William A. Bentley spent his entire life studying snowflakes and figuring out how to capture them in photographs. He published his book of stunning images, Snow Crystals, just before his death at age sixty-six.

Snow Crystals (Dover photography collections)

I don't like to give pep talks to my children about how they can do anything they set their minds on--I think that kind of talk is pretty cheap. But I love to share stories like this one with them.

What are some of your favorite books about dreamers? I'm making a list.

1 comment:

  1. well, i do vividly remember loving the biography of marie curie that i read as a child. one of my daddy's thick old books-- adopted from a second hand store during the depression. people had to sell their books to eat and he always had a nickel for a book...

    someday i should write a kid's book based on my mom (whose motto was, "there's always something more important to do than housework") coming into the room where her visiting adult daughter was practicing--she had two black wool coats over her arm. we put them on and sat on the back steps, admiring the somewhat rare missouri snowflakes. such a little adventure takes both imagination and clutter!

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