Instead of sledding . . .
Owen is usually the first of the little kids to go outside. He is what I call the “Great-Day Heralder”, because he’s always on the lookout for Great Days and proclaims them with much enthusiasm. On such a day, he’ll say as he washes breakfast dishes, “Boy it looks like a great day out there, I’m gonna try to finish these dishes extra fast so I can go out there.” After he finishes dishes he usually goes out for a little bit to see how it is out there. He comes back in exclaiming, “GREAT day out there! It’s a great day out there! Man, it’s such a GREAT day out there, Hammie [Caleb] want to come out with me after I’m done with my homeschooling?” Caleb usually makes a non-committal noise like “Mmmm…” Owen usually has to badger him about it to get him to come out, but once he does they both have a great time out there.
On this particular day–New Year’s day–Justin was the one who came out with Owen, though Caleb came out a little later. Owen was going out to try out the snow. As he was getting ready to walk out, Justin said to him, “Tell me if it’s good for making a snowman.” Owen came back in a little later, saying, “Justin it’s GREAT for making a snowman, if you want to come out.” Justin stayed at the computer without making any response, and Owen was a little impatient. He came into the dining room and said, “Well Justin, ARE you going to come out? Oh yeah I forgot, just because I said you could doesn’t mean you’re going to.” Of course, Justin was the one who said to tell him if the snow was good for making snowmen, and he did come out.
When I looked out the door window a while later, Justin and Owen were together rolling up a huge snowball on the front lawn. Justin has done this before–he’s not much of a one to moderate. If the snow’s good for rolling up snow, he’s not just going to roll up some medium-sized ball. He’s going to roll up a HUGE ball because–why stop rolling? The snow was wet enough that it rolled right up like a blanket, as you can see.
But then comes the invariable trouble of not being able to push it any further when it gets really big. Justin and Owen hadn’t pushed it very far around the lawn before they were struggling to roll it. Part of the problem is not having good traction. When it gets big enough, you have to put more heft lower down on it to get it to roll over. But when you put your hands down low at the angle you need to be at, it’s harder to get traction. In the picture below, they were trying to push it sideways–not downhill as it had been going–which also makes it more difficult. The snow smooths out in the way it’s being rolled, and to get it going another direction you need to use more force. I came over to help them, but with no success.
So they had to leave it there how it was. They did roll up another ball and put it on top for the middle section of the snowman, but they never gave it a head. (By the way, the snow ball in the first picture is the same one as in the second two pictures, although it looks a lot bigger in the first!)
When I looked out the upstairs hall window later on, I saw both of them, small in the distance, trodding up the hill. I assumed they were going to go sledding. We always go sledding on that hill, and there is hardly a day with snow suitable for sledding that Owen doesn’t go up and take advantage of it–especially if Caleb or Justin is out there with him. But I noticed they had no sled with them, and as I continued to watch, Justin started to roll up another ball. It started out very small. . .
And got bigger…
And BIGGER . . .
. . . till it was a Snow Boulder. And then they got ready to roll it!
The Snow Boulder began rolling down the hill, as they ran after it . . .
. . . only to crumble apart at the bottom.
They went over to “Strawberry Hill” (there used to be an especially lot of wild strawberries there in the summer) to make a Snow Boulder over there. The hill they are on is part of the same hill they were on before, but lower down and on the north side (left when you are facing up toward the woods). The line of bare trees you see is the edge of our property.
Here’s Justin, setting to work rolling it up.
But as you can see, this one fell apart as well.
“Let’s do one over there next,” Justin said (I can’t remember exactly what he was saying, but it was something to that effect), looking across to the other side of the hill. They used to be to the left of the path, towards our neighbors L; they walked over to the right of the path, towards our neighbors W on the other side, near where the gardens are in the summer. Here is Justin rolling up Snow Boulder number #4:
Once it got big, it was awkward to move again. But it was only downhill, after all, so they managed it.
They tried to make the Snow Boulder a little more smooth and round. Then Justin pushed it into the (empty) pond, which it was now directly across from.
After a brief moment of repose on the ruins of the No-Longer Snow Boulder, they got back to business.
Justin was feeling hot, so he took off his coat. The sun was coming out from behind the clouds, too, as you might be able to tell from the way the snow looks.
Then he started to roll up the fifth Snow Boulder.
See how fast it gets so big?
It’s heading toward the apple tree (that is, the apple tree that is several yards to the right of the small apple tree sapling you can see in the far right of the photo–out of the picture).
These pictures are so you can see the layers of snow it rolls up into, especially when you keep rolling it the same direction, which I think Justin did with this one–he may have rolled it more diagonally as it went along, but he didn’t roll it back and forth like with the other ones.
Here Caleb sits atop the apple tree branch that the snow boulder ended up under.
Meanwhile, the clouds were breaking apart and moving around quite rapidly. (Justin and Owen were too preoccupied with what they were doing to notice the drama in the sky, but it distracted me for several moments.)
While I was standing there by the apple tree taking pictures of Caleb and the clouds, Justin and Owen walked back up the pathway they created . . .
. . . and soon rolled another Snow Boulder down.
There goes Snow Boulder #6!
This is what the sky looked like then.
Snow Boulder #6 found its resting spot at the edge of where the barn used to be.
Justin and Owen were staring off to the hill opposite our house, across the road. They were joking about rolling snow boulders down there, and that’s what they’re laughing about here.
But of course they couldn’t make them on the hill across the road. “I know, let’s go make them in the Secret Garden and the woods,” Justin said. (The Secret Garden, as we misleadingly call it, is an area of trees with a path leading up to the woods.) They all went trodding off along the Secret Garden path, on to make more and more Snow Boulders in the regions beyond. But I was getting tired of taking pictures, and needed to be doing something else, so after a parting shot of them walking away and one last picture of the breaking-apart-to-blue-sky clouds (as well as a short movie to show how fast the clouds were moving–I wish I could post that), I went inside.
I asked them later if they ever did wind up making Snow Boulders in the woods. (At that point I didn’t remember for sure whether they had planned on doing it in the woods or just the Secret Garden.) “Oh yes, we made tons in the woods,” was their reply. Titi then interjected to describe how it was almost surreal taking a walk in the woods–there were Snow Boulders all over the place, popping up around every corner, she said, as if some giants had been having a snowball fight!