Spirit of Winter


You never know what you’ll come across out in the woods, especially places that are easy for people to get to. I’ve always been fond of snowmen. I don’t build many myself these days, and don’t remember ever learning how it’s done. Maybe it’s something that kids breathe in with winter air. I am convinced that some kids never completely grow up and take any opportunity to roll snow up into three balls, find sticks for arms, put rocks (or in this case chocolate cookies) down the front for buttons, then poke in two eyes and a big smile. Snow people are always smiling.

Most of the fun is in the making, and when it’s time to go the snowmen are left alone in the forest. I’m learning that there is also fun in discovery, to come across a place where people played and expressed delight in the season with this old tradition. A quick surf of the internet reveals that someone has written a serious book about the cultural history of snowmen (The History of the Snowman by Bob Eckstein). According to the author, the first documented snowman dates back to the Middle Ages and he suspects they originated in Paleolithic times. Humans have been making human images for thousands of years, out of whatever material comes to hand. Snow is fugitive–it doesn’t stay around. Part of the charm of making snowmen is that you know you are creating something that won’t last. So live in the moment and do it anyway. And make it grinning from ear to ear. Relish the cold hands inside wet mittens and runny nose that result from construction. Grin back at your creation and have some hot cocoa.

That’s the spirit of winter.

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