Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Weight of a Snowflake

Hazel Bryan would end a speech with parable:

"...a coal mouse sits on a branch, counting snowflakes as they fall on it. Soon there are 3,471,952 of them. Each weighs nothing, but when just more lands, the branch breaks. Perhaps, the coal mouse tells a white dove, the world works this way as well; with just one more voice, peace can come."

from Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock by David Margolick

I have used the weight of a snowflake as an illustration but read a different version of it from some peace activist's website. Trying to locate that, I found this version of the story:

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse asked a wild dove.

“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.

“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said.

“I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow – not heavily, not in a raging blizzard – no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,742,952. When the 3,742,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing, as you say – the branch broke off.”

 Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.

 The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”

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