While reading the label on a Leyden Jar (early form of capacitor) in the education pavillion of Teylers Museum, Haarlem (NL) before a meeting I was becoming only gradually aware of the character staring at me from the background.
I started the day with an amusing game. How many Penguin, Pelican and Puffin books could be found by walking around for 10 minutes and randomly picking books from the bookcases. Most of the literary books are kept in a room that we call the ‘library’, because it contains, well … books, but since it is on the first floor, I didn’t go there.
I photographed the picks, ordering them in random pairs on a black paper near the window.
how long does it take a snowflake
to reach the surface of the earth
and disintegrate on the crusty soil?
the unlikely order, crystal clear,
is only short-lived.
it would be too easy at this point,
to throw in some metaphors,
or shallow symbolism.
a scientific answer please.
preferably amply illustrated,
with diagrams and graphs.
like the copper engravings
in old physics books,
or the handwritten notes
of the gentlemen scientists of the Enlightenment.
gall, soot, and iron sulphate,
leave translucent words,
on brown, brittle, sub-standard paper.
obviously that last verse was a device
to draw your attention away
from the white pristine ice crystal
to the brownish physicality of dirt
it even fooled me,
my mind went from pure blinding white
to the blackish brown of molten tar.
the black clump of earth,
an amorphous conglomerate of water drops,
slowly taking shape,
forming six-sided branches,
little mathematical twigs,
getting whiter and whiter,
finer and finer,
attracting other crystals,
until a flake has been formed,
ready to fly.
and with an imperceptible shock,
it pulls itself away from the soil,
and soars back to the cool blue sky.