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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Village Igloo

My 8 year old boy spent half of yesterday working on a little walled snow fort at the park close to our house. For the past few months, he's had big dreams of building an igloo, and Friday night's snow was a good one.

I helped some, by shoveling some big piles of snow in his direction, so he could pat it into shape, like a sandcastle wall. After a few hours, he had a six foot circle of snow about foot high. He was quite proud, and jumped out of bed this morning to see how his wall had weathered the night.

Someone trampled it. And someone peed on it too, we could see yellow spots.

He cried.

"Why would anyone do this?" He yelled. So mean. So unfair. He'd worked so hard on his wall.

I said it looked like a dog had caused the damage, and we can't really blame a dog for that kind of thing, that's just what dogs do. But that didn't make him feel any better.

His sisters and I tried to cheer him up. We invited him to sled down the little hill, but it wasn't slick enough. I pushed and pushed, but nothing, they all just sat there, unmoving, on the sled. The girls and I laughed, but he failed to see the humor in it.

I suggested making a snow angel, like we did yesterday, and he just glared at me. I tried to engage him in a friendly snow ball fight, but a clump of snow went down his back, and he wasn't amused.

My husband went home and got the snow shovel and started mounding the snow up again. He's smart that way. He understands that little boys don't always want Mommy Words of Cheer, they want action.

So I grabbed the neighbor's snow shovel and between the two of us, we made an impressive start to the base of the "igloo" that our boy had envisioned.

Some neighborhood walkers strolled by and admired our efforts. They mentioned they'd seen someone else fill up a cooler to use as a mold for the blocks of their igloo. Great idea. We brought down a large Rubbermaid container and the real work began.

When the circle got to three feet high, we were concerned about the stability of the base. I made several trips from home carrying plastic pitchers full of water to carefully pour over the blocks. It was so cold that it didn't take long for the bottom layer to harden enough to hold more blocks on top.

My husband and son were driven. They worked for hours on the igloo wall, packing snow between the cracks of the blocks. I made my son come home and eat hot soup and let his cheeks warm up and change into dry clothes.

He ran out again to join his dad. Methodically, they built the wall to about five feet high, with an entry way path. The igloo was starting to look impressive.

People in cars smiled as the drove by and saw our igloo. Some stopped, rolled down their windows and asked us how we were getting the walls so high. Some wanted to help and said they'd be by later.

Our igloo was spreading good neighborhood cheer.

My son made a sign that said "do not destroy! we can build a whole village." Underneath his words, I wrote "We are using a Rubbermaid container as the mold for the blocks. Thanks for your help!" We put the sign in a plastic bag and stuck it in a snow wall with a bamboo skewer.

I hope the dogs can read.

It was snowing heavily most of the day, and it was cold and wet. I made the boy come home again to change clothes with promises of fresh, warm chocolate chip scones.

"What if some little kid destroys it while we're gone?" he said.

"They won't," I said. "It's so high now, they'll want to play in it and help build it. But if it does get knocked down accidentally, we'll try hard not to get too mad. We'll know we've had fun building it."

We walked back down in the late afternoon to a nice a surprise. There were several families out there working on the igloo with our Rubbermaid container. I hadn't met any of these people before. One family lives right behind us. The other family moved in across the park a couple of months ago. The "little Dutch girls" (as we call them) were there too. They moved here from Belgium this summer.

It's dark now. No more building for tonight, I insisted. The kids are hoping for a snow day tomorrow, since the sky dumped about 6 inches on the ground, just today. It would be nice to see what the neighborhood can do with the igloo after one more day of building.

But even if a big, bad bear knocks down our igloo (I don't think a dog could budge it, but we still might see some yellow "decorations" on the walls) it has served it's purpose.

Our boy is happy again, and we're starting to build a village.

Stay tuned for the photo!


hanky panky said...

Great story! I was pulled right in and remember my childhood, and my cold noes and toes, so well! how much fun you all had and what a wonderful story of community! :)

Live on the Fly said...

Now look what you've gone and done - you've brought about true neighborliness! How can we remain in our cynical, closed-off worlds when people like you are pulling us together, working toward a common goal and actually having fun doing it? Golly, Beav, you'd think it was 1950 again... Great job, Julie! 8^>

Jen said...

Can I come over and play in your igloo? I will bring coffee! :)

Wendy said...

I hope it keeps growing and growing!

My kids love to make snowforts, and I hadn't thought about using rubbermaid bins for the blocks. I'll have to remember that if my neighborhood ever gets snow that sticks instead of just blowing away.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story about how determination, dedication and hard work can build a community in so many different ways! Great job, Anderson Family! There is magic in snow, I think. Do you remember the "Big Snow" of '68? It dumped about 4' in Springfield, and nobody had to go to work except for Mom, because she was a nurse, and they had the National Guard jeep come and pick her up. (That's when I realized that her job was VERY, VERY IMPORTANT.) The guy at the tv station on Blanton Heights got snowed in up there, so, we did have tv when the power was on. I was 10 and you were 3 or 4. Anyway, no dads had to go to work and we all got together and had potlucks and they pulled us kids on sleds to the little store (The Rainbow Market), but we had to walk on the way back because the sleds were filled with supplies and beer. The Christmas lights were still up outside and they made the snow glow with soft color. I'm 49 and I still remember most of that time ... I know that your boy and girls will remember the igloo village forever, and also how it helped everybody in the neighborhood get together. You guys make me happy.
Love, Anon. Kathy

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, those Dutch Girls really were from The Netherlands.

They were genuine. Not fake Belgian Dutch Girls.