The plan was to get some Christmas shopping done, and knock a couple presents off the list. But without Kelly to keep us on track, we ended up spending most of the afternoon in Barnes & Noble. Chris buried himself in some Dungeons and Dragons books, and my attention became absorbed mostly by a snowflake field guide.
That's right, a snowflake field guide. Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes , to be exact. The author begins the book by stating that snowflake observation was just as interesting as say, birdwatching. The reason it isn't more popular, he says, is the lack of adequate field guides, and he set out to remedy the situation with this book.
I know it sounds, well, flaky. But the book was actually pretty interesting. The author goes into exactly how the snowflakes are made, and why they take on the shapes they do. Excellent pictures and illustrations throughout the pocket-size book.
I have a small pocket microscope that I picked up at Radio Shack last year, I'll have to give snowflake-watching a shot next time it snows.
By the way, here's the online version of the book: http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/class/class.htm
I rounded up Chris and we finally got out of there. Heading back to the highway entrance, the sky was getting prettier and prettier.
We decided to pass the exit and drive down to the fields by Northampton airport, to get a better look at the sunset. There were a smattering of walkers out there, and one guy was birdwatching through his binoculars from the warmth of his car. Just as we passed him, a big hawk flew down, and flew alongside us for about a 100 yards. Wonder if that's what the guy was looking for. Farther ahead, another person was setting up his camera tripod, in anticipation of the coming show.
We stopped and waited, looking south and west. The Mt. Tom range was dwarfed by distance and big sky, in this huge wide open field.
The sunset didn't disappoint, and we headed back home...