I’m afraid that the art of snowman building, like so many of the fine arts from my childhood, is losing its appeal with the youth today. Sledding persists, thankfully, but it seems fewer and fewer front lawns have disproportioned snow creatures with vegetable eyes and rock noses staring down guests. Just look around. Perhaps kids prefer sore eyes from staring at computer screens over cold hands from spending time outside.
Where are all of Kalispell’s snowmen? Even before this brutal cold snap came, I didn’t see any around town. I saw one attempt, though it looked like the aspiring artist gave up after the first sizable ball, with a second ball only halfway done. Something was thrown on top of the big ball – perhaps some sort of vegetation – in an effort to give the impression of modern art or hair. It looked like a giant turnip. I’m sure there are completed snowmen around, but not as many as I remember from my youth.
When I was young, a good snowman was a source of pride. A bad one was something of ridicule and embarrassment. But when there was enough snow, there was a good chance I had some ant-bodied thing drooping in the yard. Even with conditions similar to today’s freezing temperatures, I would have braved frostbite to create a man. I wasn’t alone either.
The world’s largest snowman on record was 113 feet tall. The city of Bethel, Maine proudly unveiled “Angus, King of the Mountain” on Feb. 19, 1999. Kalispell doesn’t need anything as ridiculous as that. I’m just asking for a few dozen five-foot snowmen.
While Angus may be the King of the Mountain, there is only one true King of the Snowmen. That would be a 6-year-old cartoon character named Calvin from the finest comic strip ever created, Calvin and Hobbes. While I will avoid a tangent, let it be known that the day Bill Watterson retired from his strip about a boy and his stuffed tiger, the Sunday funnies lost their backbone, if not their soul.
Calvin’s snowmen contemplate theology, their own mortality, the nuances of family relationships, brain surgery and the progress of modern society. Some are slightly disturbing and others strangely touching. Many antagonize Calvin’s parents. They all entertain.
Out the front window of our office, I see snow falling. It’s not much, but it will lay just enough fresh snow on the ground for kids when they get out of school today. I say, brave the cold, kids. Bundle up. Work in shifts. Warm up in between. But take advantage of the snow. Computers and televisions are always there when you want them. Snow isn’t.
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