I wish I’d cataloged all the snow people I’ve made over the years. I remember being a young girl rolling giant balls of snow, first the big one, then the middle one, and finally the topper… and the face. My brother gave me lessons in rolling this way and that through the snow until I had a nice round boulder.
All bundled up, I could barely move in a black wool coat buttoned to my chin and my favorite hat tightly tied with pom pom strings. I set out in the storm to build a perfect snowman. My father was there to help assemble and decorate, and as I look back I find it remarkable that he did almost everything while holding a lit cigar between his teeth.
The most memorable snowman I ever made had no name because I, like the weather bureau, only recently started naming winter fallouts. Making that snowman seemed like an all day affair and I remember how hard I worked. The snow was a little dry so dad sent me in for a bucket of warm water. He rubbed the water over each snowy body part to make them stack better which I guess was some kind of magic boy scout remedy that only he knew about. The snowman once assembled felt ten feet high (probably because I was only three feet tall) and had the perfunctory hat and scarf, stick arms, and button eyes.
My mother stayed inside. She had all the power over the snowman adornments. After much debate, she gave me the lone carrot that was intended for the middle of the meatloaf. She handed it over grudgingly and with a warning that the meatloaf just wouldn’t hold up without it, but I needed a carrot nose, nonnegotiable.
Proudly we stood back to admire what we built and I will never forget when my father, who’s cigar was now reduced to a mere nub, walked over, took the slobbery chewed up end from his teeth and shoved it right in the mouth of our snowman, snow-dad.
We stood there, my brother, my father and I, and nodded in sync at the creation, then my father picked up the empty bucket, put his arm around me and back in the house we went where we could smell the meatloaf baking in the oven.
I’ll only admit now that I missed the carrot. Everybody said it was the same but it wasn’t. The carrot was back for the next Sunday supper but that afternoon it’s absence was unimportant. The meatloaf took one for the team.