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Friday Slide Show: A Snowman Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

24 December 2021

Among our Christmas decorations, this frosted glass snowman is a favorite ornament. We can't recall how it came into our possession but it was likely a gift from years ago. We can't remember buying it.

The frosted glass is part of the attraction that is only enhanced when you look into his face. Often too close scrutiny of an ornament disappoints. But not in this case. The smiling face is nicely wrought.

The cap and scarf are highlights as well. And the metal arms, indicative of branches, are just right.

We took a hint from our Paper Forest slide show and set the snowman on top of our iPhone's colored screen (there's an app for that) for this shoot. We used an LED macro light to add a little more glow against a black backdrop.

It turns out there is an authority on snowmen. Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman, did seven years of research to solve the mystery of who made the first snowman.

He claims the earliest depiction of a snowman is in an illuminated manuscript of the Book of Hours from 1380 in the Koninkijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, Netherlands.

Which is not the same thing as solving the mystery of who made the first snowman. It's just tracking down the earliest depiction of a snowman he could find. There's probably a cave in France with an earlier one.

You might, in summer, consider solving the mystery of who made the first sand castle. Presumably it would be after the invention of castles. But sand sculptures would be another thing. As old as snowmen.

The point being that we are a creative species. Wet sand or falling snow is all clay to our minds. We fashion it in some way, add some stuff lying around like a stick or a carrot or buttons, and make something that wasn't there a minute ago.

Tomorrow, as legend has it, the tree will be surrounded by presents. We won't have to work too hard at all to conjure anything up. It will be there in boxes.

But looking back on the boxes we've opened over a lifetime, the great ones were full of the equivalent of sand and snow. They invited us to make something out of nothing.

And we could hardly wait.

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