Snowflake of a Happy Day


What a good day. It’s been awhile since I had one of those.

The cat that escaped last night and wouldn’t come in came home this morning, cold and hungry but otherwise fine. I was able to get my car scheduled for an oil change this week and found holiday cat care for a trip to TN to see my mom and sister. I learned that the guy who’s teaching the physics class I’m taking next semester is a cool, wild-haired Russian research physicist. I hear his English is marvelous and his accent relatively benign, he’s remarkably helpful, and he’s excited to teach his first class since leaving Russia.

I spent a good 4 1/2 hours doing homework, with a lovely break in the middle for lunch at the campus caf with my dear friend Rowan. We were so glad to see each other amidst the bustle of exam season. Truly, a friend who loves and understands you is a blessing so great it can hardly be comprehended. My campus’ caf really isn’t bad at all, with a tempting salad bar, hot coffee, and cold salads. Hot lunches are taken up around 1:30 or so, so late lunchers like Rosie and me dine on chicken salad, cold fruit and the salad bar.

As usual, Rowan ate about twice what I did, gorging herself on stuffing, rice, eggplant, and pie. We had a laugh at the young man who sat near us, who, honest to God, had about 5 pieces of pizza, a sub, and a salad on his lunch tray. I could have made 3 or 4 meals from it, and I don’t eat lightly. There’s nothing on earth quite like the appetite of a growing young man.

The caf was celebrating Thanksgiving with pumpkin pie and pecan pie, and Rowan nabbed some hot food about to head back to the kitchen — wild rice and stuffing. I had a piece of pecan pie with lunch, and cold sweet tea. You really shouldn’t pig out on a study day — I did that once, and regretted the tiredness and cloudy thinking that my two servings of peach cobbler soon brought on.

After lunch it was back to the grind, finishing up the last of the week’s homework on power series, and turning in, a week late (may heaven bless the kindness of math prof), my fractal project.

I ended up liking the fractal project a lot. It was a worksheet where we were shown how to construct a Koch snowflake (a classic fractal shape) and then asked to compute the perimeter and the area of the shape. I was confounded at first, but found all kinds of help on the internet, and eventually pieced it out. I think. I could have used one more day (or just one more hour, really) to clean up where I showed my work, but 5 1/2 hours on the campus was enough. I turned my work in to math prof (sliding it under his office door; he’s out of town) with a light heart, feeling that I’d liked and understood my work for once.

We also got 3 points of extra credit for coloring our snowflake, which just goes to show you that A.) math prof is a goofball and B.) math prof likes finding ways to give his students extra points. He’s silly but fair, flexible yet demanding. I sat down last night to color my snowflake, thinking I had some pastels. But all I had was colored pencils and chalk. So I sat down with those.

But I was braindead. Nothing came to me. Polka dots? The last resort of a desperate fractal-colorer. Though the shape of the Koch snowflake (there’s a colorful one above, not mine) is quite lovely, I couldn’t think of a thing to do with it. Which is unlike me. I have no training as an artist, but do have significant informal training in design, and have a good innate color sense. But nothing was happening. So I just outlined the edges of the fractal in green. I had to color the thing, put utensil to paper somehow.

But I must have chosen that color and that area of the shape that because in the back of my mind the organic shapes of the edges reminded me of vegetation. And trees are fractal shapes, with a trunk that branches, branches that branch, and twigs that branch… So I sketched in a starfish-tree, a dendritic hexa-tree with six trunks that met at a central core. Not bad! Then I sketched in blue sky and clouds in the dead space. I broke out the oil paints and colored markers for better color and detail, and ninety minutes passed like 20. My fractal was done, and a rather interesting fractal it was. I laid it on my bookbag to dry.

I’ll try to scan and post it once math prof hands it back.

And that was my day. Finishing all my homework, actually enjoying it, lunch with a dear friend, and home before seven.

Now dinner and writing work.

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