I couldn't find the inuit word for sticky snow. Instead I stumbled down the rabbit hole of "the great eskimo vocabulary hoax." Apparently the "eskimos' 50 words for snow" claim is highly contested. Anyway, on this day the snow was sticky, very sticky. Sticky snow at our house means two things: snowballs and snow sculptures! Rebecca took the lead as designer. It's a very large dragon type creature on its belly with its head raised. Well it doesn't have a head quite yet. A cold snap halted our progress and now we have to wait for sticky snow again. This dragon is currently resting in our back yard waiting for a head. Two large snowballs stacked vertically make the neck and the body is a curved line of snow balls gradually getting smaller down to the tip of the tail. We will eventually put spikes on its back.
I did go deep enough down the 50 words for snow rabbit hole to form an opinion; I believe it. Why not? People that travel on, live in, hunt in, and build with snow would absolutely need to be very good at identifying it's qualities. Their lives depended on it. My attempt at building an igloo earlier this year was a good lesson. As I watched old footage of an inuit man prodding a snow bank with a long thin rod I knew I would have to find just the right type of snow.
The kind that can be cut into couch cushion blocks and then transported, trimmed, and stacked without falling apart. It worked.... mostly. The next day was drizzling. I think it would have survived had it been completed.
As we grabbed gobs of snow to fill the crevices in our snow dragon a barred owl hunted in the grove. Mostly sitting still but sometimes silently floating to a different vantage point. It watched the ground, watched us, looked off in the distance. I really enjoyed it's company. It was the first barred owl I've seen in our yard since we moved here 5 years ago. For me this is very exciting because it means I get to add it to my yard list (a list I keep of all the species I've seen in my yard). Barred owls are very common especially in town. I'm reminded of the time when I was 13 and delivering newspapers before dawn to a house near rasmussen woods in Mankato. I could hear barred owls hooting "who cooks for you?" and I replied with a "who hu who hoooo hoooo." They completely freaked out and sounded like a monkey trying to sing Micheal Jackson. The call that I had done was of the larger great horned owl. I think I scared them.
This morning it was -17. I used to groan at temps this low but now I know that the sticky snow from a few days ago has become beautiful sheets of rigid foam. I hope it lasts long enough for a second chance at an igloo. And if it warms up then it's back to the dragon.
Author: John Kruse