Snow lends itself to forming many captivating and stimulating creations. Damp snow is just the right consistency to roll into a ball that will be sticky enough to hold together. Taking that ball and rolling it on snow across a lawn quickly swells it into a globe as large as one desires. These enormous balls can then be shaped into a traditional snowman or to make animals, bugs, landscapes, fantasy creatures and are especially great for use as walls for building structures. Loose snow is packed in between as mortar binding the walls together. My love of designing structures was definitely fostered through constructing snow art. With a simple cardboard box as a mold for the snow, I have constructed igloos, built intriguing geometrical abodes and fashioned snow blocks into castles.
What would winter be like for a kid without a Snow Fort and an
Old-Fashioned Snowball Fight?
Our snow forts were carefully planned and constructed. We started by scouting out locations and juxtaposing them opposite one another at an appropriate distance for both safety and firing range. Days were spent on building forts that would be sturdy enough to defend against the onslaught. A series of shelves were built to keep the snowballs within easy reach. Dozens and dozens of snowballs lined the shelves; there could never be enough. At night temperatures would drop and freeze the balls into icy stinging projectiles. Anticipating the fight is as much a part of the game as the actual event. As I write this I am struck by how fondly I remember our annual snowball fights, yet at the time, I would quake in terror with the thought of being pummeled with compacted ice. It is a game of hiding and seeking and requires quick action and focused attention. Sneaking up on your opponents takes daring and strategy. It also takes bold courage. Bold offense was not my strongest point. I definitely took a more defensive approach to avoid the pain of getting smacked in the face with an ice ball. I learned how to take cover, dodge and run. I was also great at replenishing snowball ammo. It is nice when you have a cooperative team and each one takes on the job they do best.
My brother’s agility and undaunted fearlessness was something incredible to watch. It was one reason I was so timid. In my mind, his ability superseded my own to such an extent that I could not imagine being a formidable foe or even coming out of it without some bodily damage. His trajectory was always swift and accurate. I remember one year crouching against the wall of the fort while he snuck up from behind and flung a big one at my back and later suddenly appeared above me and I felt a cold ball smash into my face. I can still hear his loud laughter as he darted away while my snowballs flew past him.
While I defended the fort, my sister took offense. She bravely ran all around chasing after my brother. His dexterous swerving and weaving kept most of the snowballs from hitting him while at the same time he turned abruptly to squarely strike her. Spunky and undismayed with hits from both of them, she returned to the fort for a fresh supply of snowballs. I ventured out to lead him away with my own stash. Running felt so freeing and I was able to aim true giving me a satisfying glimpse of my own capabilities. A barrage of flying snowballs coming from every direction filled the air as all of us ramped up our game. The game ended when all of the snowballs had been thrown and our energy spent. Covered in splotches of snow, our noses and cheeks red with cold, the light from the house beckoned us to come in from the dark for some hot cocoa. Together, a bond of contentment in meeting the challenge filled us.
Each year I amicably entered the game with enthusiasm. The joy of participating outweighed the discomfort and apprehension I felt. There was a knowing that in spite of my fears there was another energy calling me. The love and delight of joining with my brother and sister in play links our hearts forever. It may sound strange for a conflict avoidant person to speak with relish about a snowball fight, yet there truly was no intent to harm one another. Those years gave me an understanding of my own capabilities and developed qualities of resilience, how to face challenges and to have discernment. Times have changed and we are more aware of safe boundaries; no hits to the head and face. Even more than the gift of personal growth, I am filled with a depth of Joyful connection that will always be remembered through sharing play time with my dear brother and sister, friends, companions and loved ones.
May the Gift of Play bring You Love, Friendship and Joy!