They say that the Eskimo and Inuit peoples have over 100 words for snow.
Is this actually true, or is it just a cliché?
There has been heated debate on whether the Eskimos really do have that many distinct words for snow. I consulted Giles Whittell’s 2019 book “Snow: A Scientific and Cultural Exploration” for information.
Whittell refers to a recent contribution to the question by the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center. They determined that in Canada’s Nunavik region, the Inuit there have 53 distinct words for snow; in the Central Siberian Yupik dialect they counted 40.
Among the words listed in the Yupik dictionary are:
“kanevvluk” = fine snow “navcaq” = snow formation about to collapse “qanisqineq” = snow floating on water “utvak” = snow carved in a block, as for an igloo
Clearly, those living in the extreme north do have far more words to describe snow than those who makes their homes farther south.
As Whittell says, “…people learn to describe in greatest detail what matters most to them.”
I suppose that the number of words a culture has to describe something tells us a great deal about the importance they place on it.
As I sat eating breakfast, I could see the moon shining brightly through the window. It handily outshone the streetlights, which were still on at that pre-dawn hour.
But slowly, the moon grew dimmer and fainter, although it was still high in the sky.
What had happened to its luminosity?
Had the moon changed in some way?
No, the sun had simply come up!
The sun’s growing brilliance filled the morning sky, causing the moon to appear paler than before. Eventually, I could barely see the moon at all, even though it hadn’t set behind the horizon yet.
This puts me in mind of how we sometimes view our problems.
In the darkness of our difficulties, we often focus on what’s causing us pain. The source of our problems gets our attention, out-competing other factors in our lives.
But if we let the light of Jesus shine on our situation, the truth of His unending love for us can outshine the temporary nature of our problems. Our challenges appear dimmer in the light of His forgiveness, His care for us, and His promise of eternal life.
Among the most spectacular aspects of nature for me are its colours.
I’m continually wowed by the vivid colours found in nature, such as the brilliant red plumage of the Northern cardinal.
The cardinal’s red feathers, which come courtesy of pigments, look the same when viewed from any angle. But there’s another source of colour in nature that is even more mesmerizing:
With iridescence, the hue of something changes when seen from different angles. You’ve probably experienced this shimmery optical phenomenon yourself when looking at certain insects, butterflies, birds, or even soap bubbles.
A good example of iridescence is the head of the mallard, a common duck found in the northern hemisphere. Its head appears to be a bright emerald green at first, but if you shift your angle of observation, it can appear green-gold, blue, or indigo.
It all depends on your perspective.
Maybe there’s a little lesson here for us.
If we shift our perspective about our own situations, we can see beauty that we didn’t know was there.
Perhaps you squeezed the “mouth” of a snapdragon flower to make it “talk.”
Or maybe you held a buttercup underneath the chin of a friend. If it reflected back a yellow colour, it meant that they liked butter (apparently, everyone does!).
Probably one of the most famous flower games involves the daisy: it’s considered the oracle of affairs of the heart. The daisy supposedly has the ability to tell you if your sweetheart truly loves you or not.
It goes like this: you pluck off each petal of a daisy in turn, and as you do so, alternately say, “He loves me,” or “He loves me not.”
The final petal tells you which statement is true.
You’re left in suspense the whole time, and worry about what the last petal will reveal.
I know this is just a children’s game, but even as adults we sometimes worry if we’re truly loved, don’t we?
Human love can be a fickle thing, and we can often be unsure about the commitment and loyalty of those we love.
That’s why it’s so good to know that with Jesus, we’re never left wondering whether He loves us or not. He never leaves us in suspense as to whether He cares.
If you have, you’ll know that how well your team passes the baton matters just as much as how fast you all run.
I participated in a few relay races during high school when I was on the track team, and learned that there’s a knack to it.
When passing the baton to your teammate, you have to make sure that they’re up to speed first: at a sprint. You can’t hand off the baton at a standstill or even at a jog or your team will fall behind.
Therefore, we were taught a method to use at track meets when coming up behind the next runner on our team. We would shout out the name of our particular school, then say, “Go!”
Our next runner would immediately start sprinting with one hand behind them, ready to grab the baton in the passing zone. They wouldn’t look back at us, but simply keep running and power forward once we’d put the baton in their hand.
I think some these tips can apply to how we “pass the baton” to the next generation of believers in our spiritual race.