02019-05-21 | Ottmar, Santa Fe | 6 comments

A snowflake is like a thought, crystalized. That thought-snowflake is complex, but tender and fragile. Any amount of wind will change its path, its direction. Just like a new thought, which floats into my consciousness and looks to connect with something.

A warm object, like my stretched out hand, will dissolve the snowflake. If the crystal lands on my tongue, it’s gone. If it lands on that dog’s back, it’s gone. But many snowflakes together make an avalanche. Many snowflakes become a white-out. Snowflakes are nature’s painters, because they paint the landscape and change it completely. They are meditation teachers, because they say stop what you are doing and find warm shelter where you can watch our dance, perhaps while drinking a hot cup of tea.

In 1988 I lived in a tiny house, on Santa Fe’s East side, that was built as a studio for a Japanese landscape painter in the Seventies. It was a lovely, small one room building with a pitched roof that had a tiny bathroom and a small loft where I put the futon that was my bed. The painter hailed from the north of Japan and apparently never felt cold, because the house only had terribly inefficient electric baseboard heat, no windows to the south to gather warmth, and huge windows to the north, which only seemed to make the house more cold. During my first winter in this house I had to ask the landlord to put a wood burning stove into the room. He was a kind man and within a few weeks he had a small stove installed. In the evenings I would let the fire die before climbing the ladder to my loft bed. In the mornings I huddled in front of the stove, shivering, to build a fire to get warm. Within a few weeks I became quite good at starting a fire quickly.

On my birthday in 1992 I moved into a house I bought, and where I would be able to build a studio. Two friends helped me move and it took only three small pick up truck loads to move all of my belongings…. But there was something about that little one room house that I still remember fondly.


  1. Banafsheh

    Such a good read! And I heard parts of Santa Fe and Taos had snow ❄️ recently! I have been complaining in my head about the cold and rainy days in Boston ! It’s May ! Our spring has been very short, colorful but way too short! Such a deal breaker for me …Tired of having rain and cold days here..and then I heard Santa Fe had snow!! And I’m thinking of building a container house and move there at some point! But this kind of climate makes a place like Keywest very desirable…For now, I will be vagabonding around until I see what fits!
    Our first tiny apartments are memorable truly…I loved my first one on Beacon st, Brookline, I was only 18! I think of it often and I pass by it weekly. Some of the best years of my life!

    You may know of Dr. Emoto and his description on human consciousness and it’s effect on the molecular structure of water and indeed snow flakes..if you don’t check it out.
    Thank you

  2. Shin

    As I walked my dog this morning in Santa Fe, the view of the snow covered Sangre De Cristo Mountains was truly beautiful. The only way I could express its beauty was SUBLIME.

  3. Shin

    I was quite amused by the stories of your cold studio and the Japanese painter landlord.
    They brought me back fond memories of living in Tokyo for two years in the mid 80’s.

    I arrived in Tokyo in cold December being covered head to toe. As I was heading to my destination, I was bewildered by seeing many Japanese children wearing uniforms with either short shorts or skirts and short socks revealing most of their bare legs. It was surreal watching kids having fun, totally oblivious of cold weather, without warm clothes on. If it happened in the states, I am sure the ACS(Administration of Child Services) or 911 would have been overwhelmed with child abuse cases.
    Back in the 80’s in Tokyo, many Japanese households lived without convenience of central heating system we take it for granted in the states.
    Most families(including ones with the central heating system) had the Hibachi Tables. It sits in the middle of the room and it serves as a heating system as well as eating table and entertainment center.
    The table has low legs and a round electric heater attached below the table top. During the winter season, a thick blanket is placed between table legs and the removable table top. With the heater turned on, your legs and feet become toasty warm and cozy.
    So much actions evolved around the Hibachi table including parties.

  4. Y.

    You made it easy to imagine each snowflake’s movement and one’s own sense of stillness.

  5. Victor H.

    I thought about this long and hard only to realize I have the mind of a snowman.

  6. Jane Elizabeth

    Snowflake and sunbeam. A single snowflake is nearly not there. A single sunbeam is impossible to see. As you said, millions of snowflakes can be a powerful avalanche. Millions of sunbeams provide life and light, even from 9 million miles away. I cannot perceive an individual sound wave, but music releases my soul to see the truth.


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