Today, I Built a Snow Fort

* (I wrote this story several years ago and thought it was worthy of a repost, considering the nasty weather we’ve been experiencing this winter. Enjoy!)

Living in western New York requires a hearty soul when it comes to weathering the weather. Every winter, Mother Nature throws her best punch at us. After lying mostly dormant this winter, she reminded us of her mood swings with a pummeling of snow that stopped drivers, closed roads and shut down businesses.  And some of us thought Spring was on the way.  Ha!

How do people along the Niagara Frontier handle Mother Nature with her long, dark winter nights, and mornings crisp enough to snap the nose off your face if you wiggled it? Only one way, we take what She’s blown at us and make it our playground.

We tug on long johns, wrap ourselves in downy coats, then race out-of-door to play, just as we did when some of us still could race.

Against cheek numbing winds, we schuss down snow-packed mountains on narrow flat boards. We clamp on snowshoes and break new trails in deep silent stands of nearby woods.

Dull skates and old sleds are rescued from dusty web covered garage lofts or backyard sheds. Blades and runners are honed and waxed to make perfect for gliding over new ice or flying down slick hills on our bellies.

The brilliant sunshine on a wintry day makes a frigid five degrees feel like a tepid ten. We are survivors!

Me, I call on a time when kids were always outside, playing games that strengthened our bodies and stretched our imaginations. Today, I built a fort in my backyard blanket of cold, cotton-like snow, a dugout snow fort.

My fort today was not unlike one I built back then, simple but strong. A mini fortress, big enough for a cadre of ruffians and a cache of snowballs, just in case real ruffians showed up, as they often did. And amid the screams and yells, and maybe a curse, was the splatting thud of snowballs finding arms and legs and an occasional noggin’.

Those snow castles gave us a place to escape, a place so cold that only the energy of our youthful exhuberance kept us warm, as a pint size ‘band of brothers’ huddled together, making plans for our next adventure.

And what better place to have that adventure than on a corner snow ‘mountain’, the high, hard packed hill of shoveled or plowed snow, perfect for a game of ‘King of the Hill’.

Winter is a great time to test our endurance, to demonstrate our vim, vigor and vitality. Come Spring, we will scratch a notch in our snowpant suspenders as a symbol of success against the elements. We shall prevail!

Today, I built a snow fort. And tonight, under the cold, star lit sky, I’ll climb a corner snow ‘mountain’ and declare myself, King of the Hill!

srbottch.com

Dedicated to the kid in every adult, builders of snow forts, and those who challenge themselves in the great outdoors

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srbottch

Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

36 thoughts on “Today, I Built a Snow Fort”

    1. Liz, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Honestly, I enjoy it each time I read it (can the author say that?). It was such a perfect time, in my memory, anyway. And today, you could join in and play it (even if you grew up in Tunbridge😉)

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  1. Great post, Steve. I remember building the snow forts and then having to defend them against all evil. If the snow was heavy and “packable,” we rolled big balls and stacked them on top of each other. Then we carved the walls so they no longer looked like balls but were indeed fortress. Inside seemed warmer but probably not. Stacks of snowballs waited for the attack. Thanks for the memories.

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  2. I spent nine years living in the Dakotas in my childhood. We built a lot of snow forts during those cold winters. The highlight was when the snowplow would drive down the alley and pile up the snow in a nearby vacant field. We’d build elaborate tunnel systems that would make any gopher proud. Thanks for those memories, Steve.

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  3. Believe it or not, I do remember those “blizzardy” days walking home from Commerce High with icy snow pellets hitting my face and I can still hear the silence of the blanket of white covering everything. Wow, how those memories bring you right back to 19 Hollywood St. Those were such healthy and fun times when you could call each other stupid names and not really mean any harm. Not so today. This “cancel” culture sure has put the comedians on notice that they better be careful of who they poke fun at. Most of the comedians nowadays have gotten too ville and crude anyway, so maybe that’s all for the good in their cases. Bring back Dean and Jerry, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Tim Conway and Carol Burnett, and, of course, Bob Hope and his war-time shows during the Vietnam War. Now those were real comedians and were we so fortunate to have been the recipients of their weekly shows. Oh, me, we are in a repressive, stifling time right now, but let’s hope along with Little Orphan Annie that “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”. Have the “bestest” of days today. Another question for you that just popped in my mind, beside your “Corner Classroom”, didn’t you teach or sub in a regular classroom at one time, or am I now having hallucinations. I’d better close on that weird note. Love you. June

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    1. No, you’re not hallucinating, this time. I taught elementary 4th-6th, for five years. It was in a one room school in Illinois and I had to walk 5 miles each way…the truth stopped after the word ‘years’. We all couldn’t wait for The Honeymooners to start. And we’d laugh out loud at Din Knots as Barney Fife. And remember how you eagerly helped me shovel snow? (Now I’m hallucinating). I do remember Gary visited one Christmas and he got to shovel snow for the first time. And remember that Gary got sick on Christmas Day and we all laughed? I bet you’re laughing now. It’s still fun teasing a big sister 😁

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  4. Steve, king of the hill, building snow forts, shoveling driveways and hoping cars at 4 way stops were things that my friends and I did in the winter. Carefree and youthful!

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  5. What fun, Steve. My mother has stories about building forts in the snow and digging into snowed over ditch when she was a girl. Her and her sister sat inside and fried pancakes make from flour and water in candle grease. Luckily, they didn’t try to eat their concoction.

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    1. Does not sound appealing for my food tastes 😂. But, Robbie, you haven’t experienced winter fun until you whack someone with a snowball, or get whacked🤪! Thanks for your memory, Robbie.

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  6. Another great story. Were the “good old days” really that good or our memories clouded? I remember my Dad waxing on about how great the 1930’s and early 1940’s were. Everyone remembers their own “good old days” fondly. Thank for bringing up the memories.

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  7. Thanks for adding this great story to ‘Click & Run’. Over here in the UK a little bit of snow brings everything to a standstill. Our bins remain un-emptied (dustmen should have arrived on Thursday) even though the roads are now fairly clear.

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    1. Thank you. The snowy days are the norm in my part of the US. We’re at 42 inches this season, 18 inches behind our normal for this time of year. I hope it stays where it is but that’s wishful thinking. Have a great day!

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  8. When I was a child we never got enough snow to build a proper snow fort. Enough to make the wall about knee high, then we pretended the rest of it. Where I live now I might be able to build a snow fort for an ant, but that’s not likely to happen. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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