by Rabbi Max Anteby
I marvel how every year the plants in my garden know exactly when spring starts and they begin growing and flowering all on their own. The bigger wonder to me is - how do they manage to live through the winter? Some of those days are freezing! At least I can wear my wool socks, wool suit and wool gloves.
Wool, of course, naturally keeps you warm, but not by generating its own heat (the body does that). Wool is fluffy and airy so it serves as an insulator to prevent the heat of the body from escaping.
What do plants do?
There's something else that does the same thing as wool. It's called snow.
There's something else that does the same thing as wool. It's called snow. It comes down in flakes, each one individually designed with six points. They interlock one with the other - but not perfectly. Just like someone who isn't too good at the game of Tetris, there are always spaces between the pieces. Much of the snow on the ground after a storm consists of empty space. (That’s why you get that crunching sound when you’re the first one to step on snow). That empty space prevents the heat of the soil from escaping, just like wool prevents body heat from escaping. By doing that, not only does it protect my flowers from freezing, it also protects all the ants, earthworms, fungi and bacteria that enrich and enliven the soil.
Snow not only protects plants and animals, snow also prevents the underground water lines from freezing. And it gives us some great winter sports to enjoy and it provides us with incomparable scenery in the mountains and fjords around the world.
And you now, somehow that sparkling white color adds to the beauty. The color makes sense too. Red snow would be too glaring on the eyes., blue would just blend in with the sky, black would attract too much heat and would make it melt too quickly and we all know about yellow snow.
Another thing: guys like me aren't the only ones excited about snow. Farmers rejoice too because without snow, there would be no winter wheat. Snow prevents the soil from freezing so that water is able to penetrate all winter long and an entire crop can be saved.
Finally, as snow gradually melts, it seeps into the ground soaking the soil instead of running off the way rain does. First it acts like a blanket and then a nutrient - sort of like having your cake and then eating it too. And while it seems to us city boys that it takes too long for the snow to melt, we will just have to continue sloshing through this magnificent, purposeful gift from our Creator year after year.
So the next time you're upset about having to dig your car out of the snow, just think about my flowers and remember that spring is just around the corner.
Reprinted from Judaism to the Max with the author's permission.