On snowstorms and igloos…

As I write this, Kentucky is in the throes of a “massive winter storm”… the “biggest storm in ten years.” Actual snowfall accumulation was about 5 inches. While my comments drip with sarcasm, I recognize that 5 inches is a pretty remarkable snowfall for Kentucky, but I can’t help but chuckle.

Now to their credit, Kentucky snowstorms are bizarre.. they often start with ice. Lots and lots of ice. I still can’t get used to it. Why can’t it just snow?? Why must I brush all the snow off my car only to be met with another quarter-inch of ice that must now be chiseled off? Feet and feet of snow is no big deal… that I can handle that because you just brush it away, and you can actually drive remarkably fast on it. But ice?? I’d do donuts if I could actually get enough traction to get one started!

Growing up in Wisconsin, a five-inch snowfall was pretty routine; heck, even welcomed because for a moment things were white again as opposed to the yellow-brown snow that weeks of sand, plowing, and traffic tends to create.

I have such fond memories of the “real” winters of Wisconsin. When I was younger, winters were awesome! Winter meant sledding, snowmobiles (!!!), outdoor hockey and a general excitement that I just can’t seem to covey to my southern friends. So imagine my delight when I came home yesterday to find my neighbors building an igloo. An IGLOO!! The last time I saw a real honest-to-God igloo was about 18 years ago when I lived in northern Wisconsin (Milltown… about an hour east of Minneapolis for the Google-maps nerds) when we built one in our backyard. I remember pre-forming the blocks in our backyards, covering the snow with water so they’d freeze hard like bricks. The key (as best as I can remember from 18 years ago) to good igloo-building is to stack the snow bricks just like real bricks, using pack snow as mortar, and then get inside the igloo for several minutes so that your body heat creates just a slight ice layer on the inside walls. The ice acts as a buffer between you and the snow walls – it keeps the heat inside, but the snow on the other side of the ice stays cold enough to not melt. If done properly, an igloo is actually remarkably warm on the inside – that much I remember for certain.

So with five inches of snow now rapidly melting, I miss “real” winters. I miss snowmobiles big-time… and the sledding hill by my house with the huge jumps that left bruises from wiping out on them… pick-up hockey games on the outdoor rinks… feet and feet of snow… Funny thing is now that it’s March I’m ready for spring. The longer I live in Kentucky, the less fun winter seems. Maybe I’m just getting old, maybe I’ve lived here too long. Probably both.

I should become the anti-snowbird. I’ll buy a winter home back in Wisconsin. It will have a big sledding hill next door, a huge fireplace, and at least two snowmobiles parked out front. Salt will be a forbidden commodity.. a shovel and a decent set of snow chains is much cheaper… and better for the environment! And if I get snowed in, I’ll just hitch a sled to the back of the snowmobile. Oh yes, and a little lake nearby that will freeze over so we can play hockey.

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