Snow Day!

Snow Dog (photo by Willow Arlen)


“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found?” – J.B. Priestly


Snow Day! (photo by Willow Arlen)

Ah, a winter wonderland if I ever saw one.

Last week marked the biggest snowfall I can remember in my lifetime. Over sixteen inches of it, on top of the half foot of snow already on the ground. We’re talking fall-in-up-to-your-knees deep. I shoveled the driveway four times in one day just to keep up with it… and I didn’t keep up with it.

That mound of snow on the left of our porch? That’s Neko’s dog house.

It wasn’t only snowy, though… it was also cold. So cold that 0 degrees F started to feel balmy. So cold that my facebook feed filled with tales of water lines breaking and houses getting flooded. So cold that the news reporters started using fruit to demonstrate just how freakin’ cold it was. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this video.

None of this should come as much news, seeing as this cold snap enveloped almost the entire country in its frosty grip. That photo above should look pretty familiar to anyone who tried to go outside. But despite those bitter, freezing temperatures, I still managed to have more fun in the snow than I’ve had since I was a kid.

I’m pretty sure I got frostbite taking these photos, but it was so worth it…

Bubbles in Ice (photo by Willow Arlen)
Bubbles in Ice (photo by Willow Arlen)
Bubbles in Ice (photo by Willow Arlen)
Bubbles in Ice (photo by Willow Arlen) 

The first thing I did when the temperature went below zero was mix up some soap to blow bubbles. I was inspired by these photos, and had so much fun watching them slowly freeze from the bottom up. Unfortunately it was a little windy, and a lot of my bubbles didn’t last long enough to photograph. (Pro tip: mix a little glycerin or corn syrup into your bubble mix to make them a bit stronger.)

I also discovered that Neko is a HUGE fan of bubbles. Just one more reason they didn’t last long enough to get pictures of.

Neko the Bubble Killer (photo by Willow Arlen)
Neko the Bubble Killer (photo by Willow Arlen)
Neko the Bubble Killer (photo by Willow Arlen)

He never ceases to entertain me. I call that last one, “appetizer, entree, and dessert.” The look on his face is priceless! Now I just need to figure out how to make bacon flavored bubbles…

While I was busy relearning how much fun it is to blow bubbles, it started to snow… again. Not the ongoing, ever-accumulating kind we had already experienced, but the lightest little flutter of flakes, which landed themselves delicately on my car (which I had recently cleared off), and since the temperature was so low, they stayed, perfectly formed, exactly where they landed.

Snowflakes (photo by Willow Arlen)
Snowflakes on the tip of my finger (photo by Willow Arlen)

Taking pictures of snowflakes reminded me of the incredible work of this photographer. Attempting to capture them on camera gave me a new-found appreciation for what he does. If you like extremely detailed photos of these intricate little ice-sculptures, I highly recommend you check out his work, here. (Or, equally impressive, this photographer’s work.)

While I was in the market for fun things to do in the cold, I couldn’t help but notice a popular trend going around the internet of people throwing cupfuls of boiling water into the air, and watching the water freeze instantly and rain down as fresh snow. I had to get in on that action! I didn’t take any pictures of this happening, but you can find a video of the experiment here.

This reminded me of a phenomenon known as the Mpemba Effect — that is, the observation that in some cases, hot water freezes faster than cold. In the case of turning water into snow, the primary culprit is the rapid evaporation of steam, but it can also happen in many controlled environments, like freezing ice cubes. It’s been a scientific head-scratcher for centuries, ever since it was first noticed by Aristotle, and while there are plenty of theories as to why it happens, no one is entirely sure.

Don’t you just love life’s little mysteries?

Snowflake (photo by Willow Arlen)

Speaking of barely understood science, snowflakes are pretty magical as well. To think that trillions upon trillions of little water molecules might gather in the clouds, and freeze in near perfect symmetry to one another before falling to the ground… each one a uniquely formed crystalline structure, with more facets than the most expensive diamond. I could’ve stood there admiring them all day, if I weren’t losing feeling in my fingers and toes.

Of course, we all know the best way to warm up and contemplate the finer things is life is with a piping hot cup of cocoa. Which is exactly what I did. If you ever find yourself snowed in for a while, I highly recommend making yourself a big ol’ batch of these chocolate dipped orange zest marshmallows.¬†Homemade marshmallows are a serious game changer, and just another one of life’s wonders. Just like snowflakes, each one is beautiful and unique. Well… they’re tasty, at least. Plus you get to eat them like this:


Just sayin’.

All in all, I think this was one of the best snow days I’ve ever had. When I was a kid, it was sledding and snowball fights… now, it’s bubble blowing and cocoa sipping.

What about you — what’s your favorite thing to do on a snow day?


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17 Responses to Snow Day!

  1. mimi rippee January 20, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    So pretty. Worth the frostbite!!! Beautiful dog!

  2. Maria January 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Gorgeous and fun photos. Rather than snow and cold, I’m in Southern California where the temps have been in the 80’s! Insane.

  3. Mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry January 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    OMG! Those frozen bubble and snow flake photos are AMAZING!!!! Really, really AWESOME! I’ve been wanting to try that since I saw it on Pinterest last year, but alas we live in SC and it hasn’t been cold enough here to make it work! Also we have zero snow, which for a New England Yankee is tough to take. Don’t get me wrong, I love that our winters are short and mild here, but a couple of days of snow per year would be nice! I miss snow – never thought I’d be saying that but it’s true! Guess I could just make some cocoa and marshmallows and pretend it’s a snow day. Sigh. Also your dog is super cute!!!

    • Willow Arlen January 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

      Thanks, Melissa! It is nice to have a little snow, but the thought of a mild winter sounds nice to this Michigander. I’ll take it if it means I can watch bubbles freeze, though! :P

  4. shannon weber January 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    OMG THE BUBBLES! when it got super cold here i wanted to try that, but it does require going outside in, you guessed it, achingly cold temps. now i’m sad we didn’t do it, seeing your beautiful photos. and those snowflakes! that’s incredible. yay for nature, you know? beautiful, Willow: i may be hitting you up for hi-res prints of those…not kidding. ;)

  5. Katie @ 24 Carrot Life January 20, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    Wow- these photos are really amazing. I love the frozen bubbles and snowflakes!

  6. Abby January 20, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    Your photos are absolutely STUNNING!!! And Neko is growing up so fast.

    • Willow Arlen January 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

      Isn’t he? He just hit the fifty pound mark, and he’s only six months old. Gonna be a big boy!

  7. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes January 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

    Such amazing photos Willow- you sure know how to have a good time in below freezing temps. Those photos are absolutely stunning and Neko is getting so big!

  8. Katherine {eggton} January 25, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    I’m not the first person to say this but I can’t resist: THESE PHOTOS ARE AMAZING. The ones with the ice forming on the bubbles are INCREDIBLE. They are my favorite, even though the ones where you actually see the structure of the snowflakes were pretty rad.

    I know EXACTLY what you mean about the cold changing your perspective. Temperatures that I used to think of as “cold” now feel like a warm afternoon. If it’s 20+ degrees, I’m like “oooooh yay, let’s have a picnic!”

    I And Neko looks like such an awesome, fun dog, by the way.

  9. Amy @ Elephant Eats January 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    I <3 the snow. Seeing a freshly coated lawn makes me giddy even if I no longer get snow days.
    Oh my god, those bubble pics are SO COOL!!! I always try to take pics of the snowflakes when they’re those perfectly formed ones you can see…but they always melt to fast. Awesome you were able to capture it. I think snowflakes are just so so magical.
    And OBVIOUSLY you have to have a cup of hot cocoa after a day spend out in the snow. It’s the only way to end a snow day :)

  10. GT August 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Hi Willow. What do you think about Whole Foods selling rabbit? Perfect for a leek and rabbit stew.

    Some people think you don’t eat pets. If you hang out in Whole Foods, perhaps you have an opinion.

    I go by…

    • Willow August 23, 2014 at 1:19 am #

      I guess I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Are you asking if I personally eat rabbit, or if I approve of other people eating rabbit…?

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