Recent arctic weather has renewed my fascination with ice crystals and their intricate patterns, from the tiniest snowflakes to the huge sheets that cover a frozen lake. Though usually tricky to photograph, I've had plenty of opportunities this winter to capture ice patterns right on my own storm windows. I first started looking closely at crystals when I lived in Western Massachusetts after college, and moving to Rochester, NY, to study photography gave me lots of experience scraping ice! But I didn't have the photo equipment to get close, nor the patience to spend all that time in the cold. I did discover a wonderful 1907 children's book in a used bookstore there, and it's been a prize of my collection ever since. Entitled Water Wonders Every Child Should Know (by Jean Thompson), it used the photographs of 19th-century photographer Wilson Bentley to show the ways snowflakes and ice crystals form.This Christmas, a serendipitous gift from a friend, the children's book Snowflake Bentley, provided me with an enchanting biography of this man who devised a way to photograph and carefully catalogue these ice treasures of nature in his Vermont barn starting in the 1880s. He made the study of snowflakes and ice crystals his life's work. Now the technology is available to photograph snowflakes in your backyard or on your apartment balcony. A number of generous photographers have put very detailed instructions on their websites for all kinds of equipment (including smart phones). Just look up "photograph snowflakes." Although you could opt to sit by the fire and just cut out snowflakes using Peggy Edward's Make your own Snowflakes.