7:48am

Tue December 25, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Instant Christmas? A Snowless Snowstorm Turns Downtown Snowy White

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 8:33 am

This isn't snow.

It looks like snow.

But instead of dropping from the clouds, this storm comes from one enormous sack, carried to a rooftop in downtown Riga, in Latvia earlier this year by a team of merry pranksters who call themselves "Kut" — a creative collective. The "storm" took place on a single street on an otherwise mild day.

How'd they do it? That's the cool part. Not far from Riga there is a field of cattails, those tall, weedy plants that can be found in or near marshes all over the world. In the late spring, you can harvest the stalks, peel them, and you'll find corn-cob like structures inside. The pollen-producing male part is always on top; the seed-bearing female part below. If you squeeze the female part, (in the gentlest possible way, of course) it will swell and burst into thousands, maybe tens of thousands of little, fluffy, ready-to-fly seeds — white as snow. It's like making a quadrillion babies with one squeeze. Take a look:

So this band of crazies collected, pruned, warmed and squeezed a great quantity of cattails and turned Riga, ever so briefly, into a white wonderland. Afterwards, they released a statement. "Sometimes," they said, "surprises just happen."

Merry Christmas, everybody.


Thanks, once again, to Colossal, a website that features images and videos made by artists all over the world.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.