Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Identical snowflakes

I think that, for many years adults have misjudged the reasoning powers of young children.  When we were nine years old our teacher recounted the conventional story about the discovery of bacon: the Chinese farmer's pig sty caught fire and as he tried to herd the pigs to safety he licked his hands to keep them cool. The repeated action of licking his hand and touching the pig's hot skin brought an enticing flavour to his taste buds and, hey presto! bacon was discovered. I thought it was a lovely story. The boy sitting next to me said, 'Well what was the farmer keeping the pigs for in the first place if it wasn't for eating? They don't lay eggs, you can't milk them. Did he have them as pets?' I thought that such a challenge to authority was disrespectful. And then I remembered the snowflakes.

Crocheted snowflakes frozen in mid fall.
It had happened when I was six years old and the teacher had announced that no two snowflakes were ever alike. It had been proven. To a child who had watched snowflakes melting on the sleeve of his navy blue gabardine raincoat this was astonishing news. How had they managed to check all the snowflakes against each other before they had melted?  The answer I quickly realised, even at the age of six, was that it was one of those silly things that adults wanted children to believe. It was patently impossible to prove or disprove and as an adult I can see no reason to change my initial assessment.

But if you want to try, go to the haberdashery shop in Tenterden High Street. There you will see a display of crocheted snowflakes suspended in mid blizzard. 
You can check for yourself whether they are all different.
LATEST UPDATE: Have a look at the snowman they did for 2015.

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