“Wow, look at it snow!” I said to my wife as she sat curled up on the couch, buried beneath a
heavy, hand-sewn comforter like a hibernating mole in an attempt to ward off the January night’s
The thermostat located on the wall just above her swathed head was set on seventy-six, and the
temperature in the room was at least that high, even though it felt more like eighty to me. I didn’t
see why it was necessary for her to insulate herself from top to bottom; unless it was simply to
make sure she got her money’s worth out of the thick, down-filled comforter that we had
purchased the previous fall at the Amish flea market over in Lancaster. Either that or she wasn’t
getting enough iron in her diet.
Getting no response from my lovely bride, I stepped away from the window and positioned
myself in between her and an engrossing episode of Law and Order—she leaned to the side to
look around me.
“You should see it snowing out there,” I said.
“Wait ‘till a commercial,” was her response.
I went back to the window to watch as the big fluffy snowflakes dove through the light of the
streetlamp like a tempest of sparkling diamonds, immediately covering the street, the cars and
the front lawns of every house in our middle-class, blue-collared neighborhood.
“Man, this is a blizzard,” I said.
“I’m going outside to check this out,” I said, this time earning no response whatsoever.
Being that it was so warm inside the house, I was dressed in a pair of cut-off sweatpants and a
tee shirt—only an old worn out pair of moccasin slippers covered my bare feet. I climbed the
stairs to the bedroom two at a time and immediately changed into a pair of jeans, a flannel shirt
and thick, insulated jacket, my Steeler coat, yellow with black sleeves and the famous tri-hyper-
cycloid Steeler emblem sewn onto the front of it.
“What did you want?” My wife called up the stairs as I was finishing tying my snow boots.
“I’m going outside to check out the snow,” I said as I came down the stairs, dressed suitably for
the major snowstorm I was about to go out into.
“Is it snowing?” she asked.
“Yeah, look,” I said, opening the front door to allow her to see the winter wonderland that had
been created in just a matter of minutes.
She looked, and then the commercial was over. Sam Watterson was on the screen getting ready
to verbally strangle the alleged criminal that had been stupid enough to take the stand in his own
“Okay, close the door, your letting cold air in.”
“I’m going outside,” I said, pulling my hood over my head and stepping out onto the front porch, closing the door behind me.
It was the most beautiful snow I had ever seen—I felt like a kid again. The giant snowflakes were so big and wet that they actually made a sound when they landed on the ground.
Thwup, thwup, thwup.
I cautiously descended the front steps and then stepped out onto Bessemer Street, careful not to
put any footprints into the pristine blanket of snow that had accumulated on my tiny front lawn.
The streetlamp above me looked like a distant, glowing yellow orb as seen through the fog of
rapidly falling snowflakes. I didn’t even care if any of the neighbors were watching through their
windows when I opened my mouth and captured a giant snowflake on the tip of my tongue. It
melted on my tongue, tasting like expensive bottled water that had been dipped from an Artesian
well high in the Swiss Alps.
I put my arms out and allowed myself to be showered in the delightfully cold and beautiful snowfall. The flakes were now accumulating on the outside of my coat turning me into a real life version of Frosty the Snowman—I had become one with my environment. In my open gloved hand I caught and then examined the beauty of each individual flake, marveling at the splendor and magnificence of nature. I was amazed at how there could possibly be trillions of different snowflakes with no two being alike.
I looked at the snowflakes as they fell on the black sleeve of my nylon Steeler coat, carefully studying each one. It was true; no two were alike—just like fingerprints or DNA, each snowflake was an individual entity, special unto itself. I turned my back to the wind and leaned against the mailbox. To a passing observer, I may have appeared to be a drunk who was staggering home from the corner pub and had to stop and rest. I would stick my arm out, allow a few dozen of the sparkling snowflakes to land on the sleeve of my coat and then bring it back into the shelter I had made with my body. I closely examined each snowflake, wondering how it could be possible that no two were identical. I did this for about an hour before I noticed the porch light come on followed by the opening of the front door.
“Are you coming in? I’m going to bed,” called my wife, sounding only slightly annoyed by my behavior.
“In a minute,” I said without looking up.
The door closed and I went on about my business, the business that now seemed more about finding two twin snowflakes than simply marveling at their beauty. I remained that way, as gradually, one by one the neighbor’s porch lights, house lights and eventually television sets went dark. For at least three hours, I stood next to the mailbox under the streetlamp sticking out my arm, pulling it back in and examining the snowflakes before wiping them off of my sleeve and then repeating the process. I was becoming convinced that no two snowflakes really were alike and was ready to go back into the house. But just to be sure, I stuck my arm out one more time and then brought it back in to examine a fresh batch of the crystallized raindrops—then it happened.
“Holy cow,” I said out loud.
There they were, practically side-by-side, two snowflakes that appeared to be a match. I carefully brushed away the other flakes so that I could look at only the two. Both had a pentagon shaped center with five spokes protruding outward. On each spoke was an X halfway up, and at the end of each spoke a cross. I spent at least twenty minutes looking at one and then the other, back and worth. My eyes were not deceiving me.
“This is a miracle, that’s what this is.”
I looked around, surely there would be someone to share this with, someone who had been out late and was made even later by the snow. The snow that had accumulated at least ten inches during the time I had been standing in the street in front of my house—the street, the entire neighborhood for that matter, was deserted. I glanced up at the bedroom window, no light, not even the blue glow from the television—my wife must have gone to sleep. I didn’t know what to do—should I wake her? Are twin snowflakes a good enough reason to wake someone? How about an appearance by the Virgin Mary? Bigfoot? The Loch Ness Monster?
“She’s got to see this,” I thought.
I raised my hand to shield the identical snowflakes from the wind and to make sure no other snowflakes fell on them, and then freed my size eleven-and-a-half boots from the snowdrift I was standing in before carefully making my way to the front porch. I cautiously climbed the snow-covered steps so that I didn’t fall and lose my miraculous find. Placing my back to the wind, I slowly opened the front door and then stepped into the house. Cradling my arm as if it had been broken in six places I ran up the stairs and opened the bedroom door with my foot. My wife sat up in bed and turned on the lamp next to the bed.
“What’s wrong?” she asked sincerely, thinking I had fallen and injured myself as I stood in the doorway dripping wet and holding my arm.
I walked over to the bed. “You’re not going to believe this,” I said, holding my coat sleeve before her, dripping water on her almost new, very expensive comforter and waiting for her eyes to light up as mine had when I made this important scientific discovery.
“What am I supposed to be looking at?” she asked.
“Twin snowflakes,” I said.
She looked again and then I looked, miffed that I would even have to point out such an amazing spectacle. What I saw were two tiny water droplets, quaking ever so slightly as they desperately tried to cling to the slick fabric of my jacket. As I stared I horror over what I had done as the two former snowflakes slowly began to trickle like tears down the smooth sleeve of my coat.