Every year, Alexander and I enjoy creating "Fort Alexander" in our front yard. That's why, whenever we actually get snow around these parts, I'm beside myself with joy.
You see, I might have physically gotten older, but I've never outgrown my passion for making snow forts and snow tunnels.
So the fact that Alexander loves to play outside in the snow and loves digging forts and tunnels allows me to recapture that simple joy from my childhood.
There is, of course, an art to building snow forts. For example, you can't just build a snow tunnel the moment after shoveling. You usually have to let it sit for 24 hours. A good rule of thumb is you want the snow to compress and slightly melt in the afternoon sun of one day, then settle and compact together in the overnight cold. So usually, by the second day, your snow is compacted enough to build some semi-decent shapes in it that don't just crumble.
The exception, of course, would be snow that is packed down from a snow blower. Usually within an hour of my Dad having blown the snow at our house in Levack when I was a kid -- and these were often six or seven foot high piles of snow, tightly packed down -- I was able to dig my tunnels through snow that didn't immediately collapse. When I was a kid, I remember digging an entire series of connected tunnels and rooms. And I just couldn't get enough out of playing outside in the snow.
It makes me worry tremendously for kids these days -- I rarely see many other kids playing outside in the snow in our neighbourhood -- perhaps it's the climate we live in. Hamilton doesn't get a proper winter, not like the proper winter that Sudbury or Ottawa get. So perhaps the kids simply aren't used to the occasional snowfall that seems to send the entire city here in a tizzy. Perhaps, like their parents, they rush inside to hide from that strange white stuff falling from the sky, and dream of those hot summer days. Not me! I like my seasons diverse! Bring on winter! Bring on spring! Bring on summer! Bring on fall! Make each as intense as they come and I'm a happy little person.
With the really nasty COLD snap we had earlier this week, the snow refroze and settled to such an extent that it was extremely hard and crusty -- and yes, when I got home from work, despite the freezing temperatures, Alexander was raring to get out there and play in the snow yet again. So I was able to actually carve properly shaped stairways into the snow fort. We ended up creating 3 stairways in and out of the fort (2 from the outside up to the top rim, and one spiral-shaped stairway down into it) Of course, the fort also has a slide to get into it, and Alexander delights in just crash landing in whatever way he'd like.
So, if it isn't already obvious, this week I'm counting the fun I'm able to have with Alexander working on his snow fort. And the fact that he's still young enough to want to let me play with him while building this make-believe fortress of solitude in our front yard. I'm pretty sure a day will come when I'm out there building Fort Alexander in the front yard (perhaps Fort Alexander 2018, when my son is thirteen years old) and he'll walk by the driveway on his way to the mall to meet his friends, carefully averting his eyes so as not to make eye contact with his crazy old man. But for now. Vive La Snow! Vive Fort Alexander!