This week’s flashback goes to a snowy day in southern Wisconsin. That actually doesn’t narrow it down much, since about half the year is a snow day in Wisconsin, but close enough. This memory was prompted by a post by Jon Stolpe a couple days ago (10 Great Things To Do On A Snow Day).
My brother and I loved going out in the snow and building forts. One apartment we lived in had a little hill a little ways from it with a parking lot at the top. When they would plow the parking lot, the snow would pile up high on that hill. After the mound was formed, we would start to dig. And dig. And dig.
We would be out there for hours, maybe taking short hot chocolate breaks. We would dig one main tunnel and a couple tunnels off of that – we would need a way to escape, after all. In the middle of the main tunnel (which would be at the height of the mound), we would hollow it out so we could sit comfortably. It was almost like our own little igloo.
As we got older, I started to do some research about igloos (I honestly can’t remember a lot now), and one of the things I learned is that they were able to have a slightly milder temperature inside because the entrance would be lower than the floor. This obviously became a easy thing for us to implement since we were building on a hill. After learning that, we made sure that the entrance was on the bottom of the hill instead of just anywhere.
We also started to use water to harden and freeze the snow more, making a little more durable.
Inevitably, it would snow again, and the abominable snow plow would come. A couple times our little fort stayed intact, but it usually suffered some damage.
I started to learn a lesson. No matter how much work we put into that fort, I couldn’t control the weather or the snow plow. My fort and I were at the mercy of these outside forces. I could have decided that it just wasn’t worth it – why should I spend all that time and energy working on something that would just be destroyed?
I took the other road. I learned that things are temporal – they don’t last. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not worth investing in. At that point in my life, building the fort was still worth it. It provided a time of enjoyment as well as a time of learning (remember the research I did?). I also learned that there can be satisfaction in doing something well.
Those were some lessons that I can draw from still today – even though I don’t build snow forts anymore. Who knows, maybe I’ll teach my kids how to build one someday.