Fort Defiance: Building a Better Winter Attitude
It is no secret among those who know me well, or are at least within spitting distance of my frequent complaints–I am not a big fan of winter. I wasn’t raised with winter (other than as a remote concept that exploited all of the appealing iconography of the season without any of the gritty, icy underbelly of the season), but nevertheless I live in the Northeastern United States, which is frequently humiliated by all manner of frost and tundra-like conditions for months on end. I am not proud of it, but I usually spend the better part of the season cursing Jack Frost and wishing I could find a sauna to hibernate in. Needless to say, this regrettable attitude has neither served me well nor provided any noteworthy entertainment for my family. So in an effort to make amends with those who know me, as well as the season at hand, I have made a commitment (or sorts) to try to embrace all of the repellent frigidity that is winter.
How am I going to do this? Well, I am still figuring it out. It will probably consist of modifying certain unproductive behaviors (trying to change the weather by shaking my fist at the sky and muttering various rebukes) and taking a general carpe diem attitude towards winter’s adverse conditions. This will no doubt include spending much more time outdoors than I ever imagined, and generally welcoming the cold into my life.
The first thing I may (change that to “I will”) do to embrace my hyperborean surroundings may be to build a snow fort (depending on the projected snow fall over the weekend). For the life of me, I can’t think of anything more wholesome (and somewhat counterintuitive) than getting on your hands and knees, along with your child, and digging yourself deeper into the snow that haunts your every waking moment. A snow fort, for those of you who may be unfamiliar (myself included) is a long loved winter pastime that involves molding surplus snow to create a temporary structure that is able to hold one or more children, and provide for a full afternoon of work and fantasy. There are stories of children (along with the help of abiding parents) building elaborate snow forts that are impressively vertical with a multitude chambers and flourishes like working slides and Mansard roofs.
For us beginners, our snow fort will more likely resemble a snowdrift with a crater in it, and that is ok. I recently stumbled upon step-by-step instructions online as how to go from snow abundance to snow structure (in 30 steps or less). I am posting a link here as a challenge and invitation to all of my wonderful readers who may, or may not, share my ambivalence about winter. If we all get out in the frigid tundra this weekend (weather providing) and truly create something (with or without our children) it will send a message to… well I don’t rightfully know. But it has got to be better than sitting inside and cursing our seasonal lot in life. Think of it as snow forts across America.
How do you stay sane in winter? Any expert snow fort builders out there willing to share some winter wisdom? Any winter mantras or snow related guidance to impart?