Things My Daughter Does As a Child That I Never Did: An Occasional Series

Here’s one: Make a snow fort. This is what I get for growing up somewhere where the average February temperature was 68 degrees. Really, what was I thinking.

Also: see that? Most of that’s accumulation from the last two days. Yeah, we got snow.

35 Comments on “Things My Daughter Does As a Child That I Never Did: An Occasional Series”

  1. Dude! You know, I just finished reading Dan Simmons’ The Terror. Turns out this kind of skill has real utility in some places. You’re definitely going to want to take her along if you ever go on an arctic cruise.
    How is she at seal hunting?

  2. amandageddon – She is a slacker of the highest order, a geek of not so much, went back to school to become an even bigger geek and possibly get paid for it. She loves it when a plan comes together.

    That’s pretty much a Quinzee right there. I used to make ‘open concept’ quinzee’s when I was a kid, because my mom wouldn’t let me dig tunnels in the snow.

    Snow forts = fun!

  3. What she really needs to do is make a snow slide… if I remember it right, you build snow up into a big hill, and then you pour hot water down one side of it, to melt it and make it slick. Since it’s also really cold out though, the water freezes pretty fast, without melting all the snow, and then you’ve got a great slick, icy surface to slide down, over and over. =)

  4. Jeff Hentosz: “You know, I just finished reading Dan Simmons’ The Terror…”

    Just started reading that one, haven’t gotten very far yet. I’ll admit to being a little reserved at the length of the book (seven or eight hundred pages is a lot to waste on a bad story), but it looks promising.

    I never got to build a snow fort growing up, either. The last few years, I think we’ve seen a lot more snow than in the many years before. And with it being Kansas, the foot of snow you get when it’s 4 degrees one day melts pretty quick when it’s 50 the next.

    Glad to see she’s enjoying the snow, though!

  5. Yep, kids aways see the bright side of things. Everybody in the east/midwest is in panic mode, and the kids only see opportunity for fun. I’ve thought for years that the country would be a lot better off if the MAXIMUM age for elected officials was 10, and appointed officials 8. Most of Congress acts like children anyway, why not make it official?

    Give Athena an old spray bottle full of warm water and spritz the inside of that cave, the ice shell will last until spring and prevent cave-ins. This trick also works as a pretty good “glue” for snowblocks when you’re building an igloo.

  6. Did she do all that burrowing armed solely with a plastic ice scraper?

    I’d also try to get all snarky about how she has failed to incorporate a toboggan into the defensive structure, but considering that you don’t have any meaningful changes in elevation I suppose a toboggan would be more of a cruel reminder than entertainment.

  7. I had fun as a kid in the snow mixing up water with food coloring and using spray bottles, squeeze bottles, pitchers, and anything else I could think of to make patterns in the snow, and color the outsides of our snow forts, snow men, snow cats, snow whatever our little brains decided the snow sculptures were.

  8. That is so cool! That is the kind of snow I remember from a childhood lived in Nebraska. Those cherised memories are the reason why snow almost never lives up to my expectations now that I live farther south. We just don’t get true, multiple-day snow ins like we did when I was a kid. So glad your daughter is getting to experience that and that you are through her.

  9. Boiling water + big pile of snow = awesome ice slide.

    My dad used to build slides for us every time we got snow drifts. One year he got really fancy – the drifts came up the the 2nd floor balcony that year – and built an ice cave in the middle of the drift, big enough for 3 kids, then curved the slide around it.

  10. I’m so jealous. Not that I miss driving in actual snowy Idaho winter, but…the fun!

    One of the nice things about Western Oregon, though, is that if one misses snow, one can simply drive an hour to get into the mountains. (And if one wants oceany stuff, that’s an hour the other direction.)

  11. I live in southern Westchester County, N.Y., and we haven’t had a single significant accumulation this year (including today, when our vaunted winter storm has brought us basically an inch of slush). I’ve had a huge snowthrower taking up space in my garage for months, waiting for enough snow that I can test it for a feature in the newspaper I work for. Looking like we’ll have to send it back unused.

  12. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, father of pangolins

    We got lame snow here in Maine. High winds and grainy snow mean no real accumulation but the city has everyone bugging out. Woot. Went to the opening of the new Whole Foods and figured out that’s why everybody’s off the roads – they’re frigging waiting in line there!

  13. Damn, now I miss the snow. We made a huge snow dragon one year. The icicles on the houses were about five or six feet long, so we broke off a few and impaled them on his head and back to give him spines…and then we poured red food colouring over his teeth and claws and spines. It was teh Awesome, and it won our school’s snow sculpture contest. (The first time ever that the seniors didn’t win and the sophmores did.)

  14. Kristy,

    If you’re patient, Western Oregon usually gets one good storm per winter (used to be 2 or 3, damn Global Warming!). The one we got last month was OK, but not worth all the fuss just because the plows were ready for 1/2 inch and not 4 inches (though I didn’t mind 2 days off from work). I live in the hills, so sledding and skiing are the order of the day when it snows.

    And sometimes the storms are ice instead of snow, and then you get to watch everybody falling down when they try to walk.

    But yeah, I miss the snow forts we used to build when I grew up in Pennsylvania. But I don’t miss sliding off the road in my car and almost ending up in the canal on the way to school.

  15. How is she at seal hunting?
    Had me laughing out loud.

    And Jim is right about the spraybot, or better yet, a hose hooked up to an interior mudroom, and a mister nozel. My brother and I had a cheap square sled when we were kids, and I don’t think it was ever used as a sled, it was a snow brickform. spray the bottom, fill with snow, spray the top, stack.

    You have a snow CASTLE! assuming theres enough snow, there never was. CURSES!

  16. CURSES! Steve, not jim, sorry steve.

    One of the reasons I use a moniker is cuz it’s easier to differentiate. Sorry for the error in attribution.

  17. The winter of ’76-’77 we were living in rural PA and had six weeks without school because of the snow and temperatures. Unfortunately it was often too cold to even go outside. But we had tons of snow – the drift was up to the level of the porch roof in front, so that you had to climb out the bedroom windows to get out.

    I remember digging snow tunnels in the snow drifts, but never even thought about cave-ins. Thinking about it now it’s a wonder we didn’t end up buried.

    The snow we got in Chicago is all powder – mostly a pain in the ass…

  18. Well, I just got back from my trudge to the supermarket and this storm sucks here. Just enough snow on the ground (of varying consistency) to make walking difficult and with the way the wind is blowing, it’s like hanging out with Dick Cheney and his shotgun.

  19. At this point I’m not certain WHO’s been cursed by the wickedpinto. Snowblind, I’m guessing? But I’m with you, snow castles rock. We use a square plastic bucket (empty cat litter pail) to make the blocks, I’m in my late 40’s and you know what? It’s still a blast. Plus, there’s nothing better than smacking the wife upside the head with a slushball (gently, to be sure, but I still run like hell afterward).

    Nathan: “hanging out with Dick Cheney and his shotgun” Okay, I didn’t actually spit my coffee on the keyboard, but some of it did drip down the front of my uniform. So I think you get points for it. Have to check the rule book.

  20. Well, I grew up in Idaho where we made snow caves and all that happy crap. Then I spent 3 years on the coast of southern California courtesy of the US Air Force. I don’t care if I ever see another snowflake as long as I live. You nostalgic folks can have them all.

  21. John H. writes:

    I remember digging snow tunnels in the snow drifts

    Ah, yes. Back when I was a kid in Alaska, one winter we dug a snow tunnel *system* around our apartment complex. Of course, it helped that the snow piles were compacted first (plowed off, that is).

    IIRC, that same winter, we built a fairly lifelike snowman on the side of the road trying to thumb a ride to Hawaii..

  22. A proper snow tunnel was the goal for a few weeks of grade-school recess. The plows put up huge mounds of snow and a significant fraction of kids, including me most of the time, scrabbled at the heaps and tried to make a proper path.
    We never did. I can’t remember even one snow tunnel, only the knowledge that there wasn’t enough time. Or enough snow, to be honest.

  23. When I was a kid back in Carolina we used to sled down deer trails, building up the banks in the turns and making little jumps and stuff. Now that I’m in Chicago…more snow, but nothing that I’d call a sledding hill. Meh.

  24. Up here in New Brunswick Canada the jetstream is bringing on this latest storm, across the province and due North to the true Great White North – where it belongs. Snow accumulation is much less than it used to be when I was a kid; our ski-hills have had very tough luck over the past 15 years. Snow and all its attributes shape your thinking. Once in Santa Monica I saw those apartment buildings down by the beach (places where the Three’s Company gang would have lived)but the buildngs are on columns, so the cars can be parked underneath, by way of very steep entrances. I thought great idea, but it has to be a pain in the ass in winter. Time of year Febuary. Denial of one’s own unfortunate reality can be a powerful thing.

  25. Not wishing to nyaah, nyaah too much but this week we were shovelling snow too. Only it was off the second floor roof. Kind of like Parish NY but every winter…

  26. Amanda–thank you! I never saw the written word “Quinzhee” or “Quinzee” before. I thought it was a corruption of a Quonset Hut–they’re cheap and sturdy, but made out of snow instead of sheet metal. But if it’s another word entirely, well, that makes much more sense.

    We made them in Scouts back when we still had snowy winters. Pile snow in a huge hemisphere until it’s about 6 or 7 feet tall. Then find a bunch of sticks or branches and make them about a foot long. Push the branches in the pile as far as you can. This gives the snow pile a pleasing hedgehog appearance. Go play in the snow for three or four hours. By that time the snow has settled enough to go to work. Start digging out the pile, and stop when you reach a branch. This means that the walls should be about a foot thick.
    With the snow you’ve excavated, you could build a wind shelter for a fire. Those ideas about spraying water on the inside are good too, if you have liquid water available.

    Of course, one time it was too cold or something for the snow to settle properly. I was on my back, scooping out the ceiling. I happened to look out the door just as WHPMPH! The dome collapsed, and I was trapped. True story. Like Alice Sebold, I was lucky.

  27. i was born in san diego… of two buffalo, NY native parents.

    (in fact, i was born the day after buffalo’s infamous “blizzard of ’77”.)

    after the divorce in ’85, my mom moved my sister and i back to buffalo.

    there was another blizzard. my grams’ lawn was covered in enough snow for this 8 year old to tunnel from one end to the other.

    so i did!

    i was in awe.

  28. Step 1. Get a big hefty plastic garbage bag.
    Step 2. Find a really big hill and take bag to top.
    Step 3. Place bag on ground and sit on bag.
    Step 4. Let gravity do its thing!!

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