239 Things

1000 Things is a subjective encyclopedia of inspirational ideas, things, people, and events.

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239 Things

Pick up the plastic globe and shake it, and the world within it transforms into a snowy landscape, despite the bright blue sky within. They’re called snowstorms, but are also known as snowballs, snow globes, shake domes, water globes, or snow domes. Each name stresses a different aspect of the object: shaking, globe, water, or snow. The first example was shown at the world exhibition in Paris in 1878. These were made of glass. And the snow wasn’t made of plastic, but from flakes of rice, porcelain, bone, or wax. Since then, they’ve grown to be a true collector’s item; sometimes you’ll see whole windowsills full. One also comes across them in thrift stores. But why snow? And why would you collect one, only to throw it out?

Shake one and you’ll know enough. Each dome houses a small, adjusted world in which time stands still and everything remains the same forever.

In the globe you’ll see that which you’ve seen in the big world; that moment, that experience, that building, locked in a frozen state for eternity. That little world is yours. And because it’s yours, you can change it. The snowstorm that ensues is merely the symbol of that. Your thoughts can travel further, past your memories. Further than that one moment. Past the blue sky and the nameplate to the horizon, to where the snowflakes

Better than buying postcards or taking photos, snow globes are collected. At home their value is revealed. Not only does looking at the snow domes bring back memories, but the collector’s thoughts remain a voyage through which he travels. With one swift movement of his hand, Paris is not just the Arche de Triomphe and the Notre Dame, because there, behind the right tower, begins his Paris. The city of his dreams. The journey he once made to Canada and the United States likewise continue forever. Past the captured monuments of St. Louis, Minneapolis, Toronto and Montreal. Even past the idyllic coast of Nova Scotia. Further, always further, to buildings that will never exist, forests that have disappeared forever, and places that only he knows.

But one day, the globes will reveal their true identity. The cheap plastic begins to tear. The once clear water grows clouded, begins to evaporate, and turns into a sticky substance full of chemicals. The dancing snowflakes can no longer keep with the rhythm and lie at the bottom like dirty plastic bags. The collector, unconvinced of his defeat, once again picks up the snowstorm, tips his hand and sees that, actually, all his dreams come from Hong Kong.