It has been a battle to even build a snowman this winter, with strong thawing so frequent. The children at our Childcare love an igloo, but often they have melted away even before the walls were halfway up. We did complete one in January, but it collapsed in a cold rain and soon was just the white letter “O” on the brown lawn. The one above is our most recent effort, over six feet tall and called “The Leaning Tower of Igloo”. It is also “The Last Igloo”, for two reasons. One reason is that it is March, and the sun is higher and stronger. Though we still have more than a month before pussy willows begin to bud, the snow shrinks so swiftly at times it is hardly worth shoveling it. The second reason is that I’m getting a bit old for such effort.

Not that a man is ever too old for a snow fort. I don’t doubt some stuffy bankers think they are beyond such childish sport, but that is because they never test their resolve. They stick to their daily duty and never dare leave the sidewalks and scoop a handful of sticky snow. If they did they’d realize they were like an alcoholic sipping just a single sip of whisky. Once they started they could not stop.

Nor is it that snow brings out the child in a man. In fact it is the other way around. Snow brings out the man in a child. There is something deeply civilized about the urge to build. After all, what is the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome but Michelangelo’s glorified igloo.

Of course, I am no Michelangelo. Maybe I could be, if I had so many working for me, but I had to move the slushy snow, and my back stiffened up so I couldn’t flex as well, which is why the two sides don’t match.

Nature seemed to approve, as a retrograde gale up in Labrador brought us subfreezing gales and turned the slush to rock, and crusted the snow so the kids could run over the snow without sinking. Rather than melting my igloo nature preserved it. And the kids seemed to approve of the igloo as well.

Not that it will last. But the maple syrup other old men are tapping from trees will not last either. Some things are not made to last, but rather to be enjoyed, and hopefully this sonnet is such a thing.

The trees have sprouted buckets, and also tubes
Of modern plastic, as maple weather
Freezes the thaw each night, and frugal rubes
Get rich off sap. With skin like old leather
They concoct ambrosia, and city people 
Escape concrete to inhale fragrant steam
And to worship, without any steeple,
A lifestyle so long lost it's like a dream.

At daybreak a big man can walk upon
A crust on snow that was practically slush
The day before, breathing puffs in the still dawn,
But I don't inspect buckets in that blush.
As winter birds sing spring songs, what I do
Isn't work; it's the play of my last igloo.

LOCAL VIEW –Igloo’s demise–

After a mild start, winter became harsh and hard. We built a snow-fort with tall walls at the Childcare, but it wasn’t until February 16 we finally had a day mild enough to make the powder snow sticky enough to roof the walls. The wet, packed snow froze as solid as rock with nightfall, and the igloo seemed as permanent as granite.

Enough is never enough. A ramp was needed, starting from the right of the door and spiraling up to a porch to the left of the door, with a short tunnel left of that.

Old Man Winter towered in his might. He had just begun. He planned further expansions, even glaciers overrunning Boston

The children enjoyed the igloo, but were no more impressed by Old Man Winter’s power-mania than they are by Washington D.C.’s. Some even said they were bored of winter. They wanted to plant things, as if they somehow understood snow grows no food.

Then, from a trees highest twig, came the song of a bluebird.

Old Man Winter became furious, and sent his storm troopers to defend his domain.

The thaw dared threaten his art, so Winter
Rages, hurling wrathful daggers within
Howlings from the north. He wants to splinter
Sunshine like shards of glass, which makes Spring grin
And beam all the more warmly. What can match
March sunshine? It makes all the world crazy
Simply by beaming. I muse, "What's the catch?
What's the trick?" Before my eyes can see daisy
or crocus or even greening grass,
(When in fact there's nothing spring-like to see,)
March's spears of bright sunshine surpass
All Winter's daggers, and we are set free
From our scarfs, with battle completed.
Once again winter see's he's been defeated.

His storm troopers can’t stand up to sunshine. They lose their heads.

And his art is swift to follow.