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Sunday, January 31, 2010  

Winter Wonderland

I told you a few weeks ago about our feeble attempt at a snow fort, and my even more feeble attempts not to feel inferior about it when I saw other peoples' in the neighborhood after we received a generous shipment of highly moldable snow. However, in the intervening weeks, I have not told you about some of the other structures I've seen, just within a mile radius of our house. These have included a snowman twelve feet tall, a snow Sphinx, and a snow Eiffel Tower (although several sever thaws have rendered it more of a hollow snow Great Pyramid). And those are just the ones I know about. For all I know, there could also be snow Taj Mahals, snow Sydney Opera Houses, and a snow Space Needle within five minutes' drive of here. If the latter exists, I can at least take comfort in the fact that it's not tall enough to be visible from our driveway.

But all of this is nothing compared to what exists on our very own block.

It's not noticeable right away as you drive past unless the kids are out on it, but we've brought ours over there a few times, and every time it's more impressive. Across the street and up the hill from us, our neighbors live in a house that's situated atop a small but steep hill. You might expect them to have a sledding run in their front yard. You might not expect them, in a small, urban lot within the city limits of Minneapolis, to have five.

1. The straight run begins in the middle of the level part of the north half of their yard. The steep part is long and steep enough that you can really get going, almost to the point where it almost seemed possible to clear the snowbank bordering the street and end up in traffic. Which is impressive considering this snowbank is four feet high. I stationed myself on the outside of the bank just in case, and you wouldn't believe how much sled-bottom I saw a few times before my neighbor remedied this by digging the channel a little deeper near the top of the snowbank so it would bounce sharply against the ice-ridge at the top instead of coasting to a uncertain zenith. Kids are resilient, but I don't think I would have taken that run in a sled without an airbag.

2. The short bareback run starts with a small plastic kids' slide that actually used to be M. Edium's. It's perched so close to the very edge of the hill at the south half of their yard, I suspect it'll tumble over when the snow melts. The near-vertical plastic drops you into a slightly more vertical ice trough that drops you onto the sidewalk.

3. Identical to 2, except it's more vertical, has a smaller plastic slide, and drops you into the driveway instead of the sidewalk.

4. Actually not a sled run at all, but a more fascinating attraction to M. Edium, is the snow fort. Carved clear through the snowbank dividing the sidewalk from the street, M. Edium spent more time in there making improvements than he did sledding. It's the engineer in him, I guess.

5. The "270" begins at the top of their yard, only a couple of yards from their front window. A neighbor-made snow-platform at the top provides a staging area for this saucer-only run, and a parent must assist with the launch. The subject, who must ride in a saucer rather than a sled, takes a steep drop out of the yard and across the icy driveway. While turning 180 degrees so that the child is suddenly sliding backward, the saucer goes a slight distance up the far snowbank before gravity starts pulling it down the slope of the driveway. Just short of where the driveway meets the sidewalk, a temporary berm made of snow sends the saucer sliding back across the driveway and then up the sidewalk. By the end of the run, the child has described a giddy but graceful three-quarter circle, and invariably finds him- or herself positioned, for maximum convenience, at the very foot of the shoveled concrete steps that lead up the middle of the yard and right back to where he or she started. They can't leave the house, but who would want to?

M. Edium has repeatedly asked me, "Why don't we make our yard like [neighbors']?" I always tell him that our lot is flat, and there are no slopes to work with.

Sure. That's the reason.

posted by M. Giant 9:12 PM 0 comments


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