Saturday, January 25, 2020

Snow menhir

     Well it isn't a snow man, that's for sure, this tower of five snow spheres that I passed on my way to the train Friday morning. Not the familiar three ball, feet/torso/head configuration. No coal eyes, no carrot nose, not battered top hat. Can't call it a man, or I suppose, nowadays, a snow person. Mustn't traffic in gender stereotyping.
     So what is he ... whoops, it. I mean "they." A snow...what? Monolith? Cenotaph? A snow pylon perhaps.
     I could knock on the door and ask. I saw three men building it the day before and have to assume they belong to the house. I mean, who builds a snow whatever in the front yard of a stranger? That would be even weirder. Of course, if I had to write the chapter title for the past few years, I couldn't go wrong with "Under Weirdness More Weirdness."
      Can't knock on the door. That transaction is beyond imagination. Almost. Ding-dong. "Excuse me. I was wondering; your snow edifice, exactly what is it? Representationally speaking."
     Better a mystery. One, I admit, I did not ponder too much. A pleasant day, got work done at the office, a promising lunch at the Little Goat Diner with an editor. Then, returning home, there it was. Only a little reduced. Layering another mystery. How did it stay up? In the rain no less. Is it impaled? Upon a broomstick, say?
      And not built in the center of the yard either. Right by the sidewalk. Is that trust?  Or a challenge? Or oblivious? You'd think some malicious person would have knocked it over at some point during the day. Would have succumbed to the overwhelming desire to knock it over.  The thought crossed my mind, but I squelched it. As did everyone else. A very quiet street.
     On the second visit I finally reflected on the tyranny of snow men. They have a lock on the market of snow creatures. Very seldom anything else. The occasional cave or fort.  That's it. No snow bears. No snow trees. In the realm of amateur efforts I mean. I'm not talking about giant snow dragons at some festival in Finland. Though, to my credit, I do recall building an enormous snow bust of George Washington, years ago, with my brother and our kids. A compelling likeness, if I recall. I used a dollar bill as a model. Though if you want to be critical—and who doesn't nowadays?—you could point out that a snow bust of George Washington is, still, a snow man.
     The house, I should point out, is one of those places that changes residents nearly every year. Backs up against the train tracks. And they all must come and go out the back. I swear, I've had a chance to converse with the occupants no more than three or four times in 20 years, and it's always someone different. So it's not like I can casually inquire about the snow obelisk during our next conversation.
     Thin gruel, I know, even for a Saturday. But it was a long week, my first week back after medical leave, and frankly, it's the snow cairn or nothing. I hope I made the right choice.


  1. Not “thin gruel” at all — I enjoy everything you write. Your calling the snow creation an obelisk was interesting since Google’s dictionary says obelisks are made of stone and associated with the Egyptian sun god. Perhaps Egyptians have now moved into that house and are asking their sun god for warmer weather.

  2. Perhaps of equal mystery, what is a squat multi unit rental building doing in your leafy suburban paradise? Oh yeah, the train tracks...

  3. If the current residents are Korean, perhaps the following copied from the Internet might explain your "snow cairn."
    Doltap, or stone stacks, refer to elaborate conical cairns erected at village entrances as objects of worship believed to keep away bad fortunes and invite in the good.


  4. I like your possible explanation of the snow pileup better than mine, Tate. Sometimes it’s more fun to wonder rather than know.


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