Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Things aren’t always as they seem.

It’s a winter with snow. Lots of it. Almost two feet of it, brightening, calming, silencing the landscape. Its beauty is in its ability to outline all that we see already, or do we?

My daughter and I declared the time to be snowman-building time. We climbed through the piles in our backyard and picked the perfect spot for our snow creature to stand. Closer inspection revealed the snow to be the fluffy stuff; sifted confectioner’s sugar, to the highest level of slippery smoothness. We’d repeatedly gather a handful and squeeze it together for the starting snowball to begin building our snowman, only to result in another crumbled pile of white remnants at our feet. Brushing off the crumbs from my gloves one more time, we switched gears and changed our task. We must reinvent the crumbly snow and create the wet stuff we need for perfect snowballs and snowmen and snow forts.

We had two approaches to the problem: 1) a thermos of water to wet the snow, and 2) the search for already-wet snow to use for our snow building task. Pouring water onto the small pile we made, we were pleased at the hardening ice to keep the pile from flattening. The snow-watering was tedious, though, and we were convinced plan 2 would be an easier solution. I went around to the front of the house and discovered a spot where dripping water from the roof caused a section of snow to be the perfect icy, wet stuff. My daughter took the assignment of snow-watering to keep our pile strong. Imagine the crazy scene: my daughter watering snow, and me carrying piles of wet, usable snow from the front of the house around to the back so that the snowman-building project could continue. No, we weren’t crazy. We were inventing.

Eventually, our pile became large enough to sculpt into the round shape needed for the classic snowman. Determined to gather just one more pile of wet stuff, I went to the front of the house and discovered a small boulder left over from the driveway being plowed. I picked it up, carried it back and gingerly placed it on top of the mound. It’s a snowdog, my daughter said. And so it was. What we thought would be a snowman became a snowdog. Sometimes we need to just leave things alone, even if they aren’t as they seem.

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