And Now, For Something Completely Different…

Making Silver Bell


The snow was cold, but Heather insisted on making a snowman.  Of course the snow is cold, it’s snow.

“I’m from Wisconsin,” she said, “I don’t need gloves!”

Her statement made sense in that we just drove up into the mountain from Las Vegas.  We don’t interact with snow that much.  And she was right.  She didn’t need gloves.  She dug her bare hands into the icy white snow that had been packed down by the scenery watchers before us.  She crafted a bottom layer of the snowman.  It was about the size of a normal snow ball.  For a moment, I thought it was all a ruse to arm herself for an attack against me while I suspected nothing.

It was not that.  She placed the first ball in the snow and started on the second ball.  I turned my attention to the view.  I had my phone out to take some photos.  I wanted to paint the scene some time next week and I needed a reference.  I took a step forward and heard the familiar crunching sound of the packed snow get a little more dense.

“She needs eyes and a nose,” I heard behind me.  

I turned around and looked.  Heather had formed the traditional three-ball snowman in miniature.  She was standing, looking around for something to use as eyes.  I started looking as well.

We were just off the parking lot in a snow-covered area, surrounded by trees.  I was looking in the dirt for something. Heather was eyeing a tree.

“We can use these berries from this juniper bush,” she said.

“I’m not sure that’s a juniper,” I replied.

I wasn’t sure.  If it was a juniper, it was the biggest darn juniper bush I had ever seen.  It wasn’t that important to me to confirm the species of the bush in question.  I moved on.

Heather had grabbed two berries of the bush and was applying them to the snowman.  Unfortunately, the snowman was really an iceman at this point, and Heather was having a hard time making the eyes stay in its head.

I turned just as I heard a crunch and an “awwww!”

Heather had just crushed the head of this poor snowman, like an evil villain crushing the head of a helpless little munchkin in a not-for-children animated movie.  I laughed, a little.  I couldn’t help myself.

“Uh oh,” I said, “what did you do?”

Heather looked up, “I couldn’t get her eyes to stick!  I need to make a new head.”

“Maybe it doesn’t need eyes and a nose,” I responded as she was shaping the new skull for this sad headless snow torso.

“Honey! She needs eyes!”

“Okay,” I replied and started looking around.  Seeing that the berries didn’t seem to work, I looked at the bare earth for some small, dark pebbles.  Heather handed me the snow-head.  I started to apply the head to the torso.

“Wait!” Heather said, “won’t it be easier to put the eyes on with it in you hand?”

She was right.  Eye surgery is much easier when I can manipulate the head position without fear of ripping it off the body.

I grabbed a dark pebble and started to insert it into the icy skull.  I can see why Heather crushed the skull the first time around.  The icy ball resisted the insertion of the pebble, and I found myself squeezing the head quite hard.  I was dancing around that fine line of constructive/destructive force needed to give this snow-munchkin sight.  

One eye in, one to go.  I bent down to pick up another pebble/eye when the first one fell out leaving a creepy-looking eye-socket hole in the decapitated ice-crystal noggin.  I sighed, grabbed the first pebble again, and reinserted it into the socket, rationalizing the snow-optic nerve will be fine.  Fine enough for a snow-person anyway.  Holding the icy head so that the severed snow-being was looking at the sky for fear of loosing its first eye, I grabbed a second eye and shoved it in.  A light layer of ice over the eyes will keep them from falling out.

Now for the nose.  I grabbed a small twig from the ground and shoved it in.

“Looks like a cigarette,” I said.

“No it doesn’t!” Heather replied.

I handed her the head as she was more of the spine specialist while I was more of an eyes, nose, throat guy.

She placed the head back on the torso that had not moved since its original mutilation.  How could it, it had no head on its shoulders to use.

“Now she needs arms,” Heather exclaimed.

Heather had pulled two arm-like twigs earlier and was ready to apply them to the she-snow torso.  Luckily, this procedure was much simpler than eye and nose surgery.  There were no complications, and we had a fully formed snow woman.IMG_1350

The snow woman stood proudly by a fallen branch in the snow that formed her.  She had her back to the mountains as if to say to all who approached, “Yes, yes, this is all my domain. I am the mistress of the fallen snow!”

It was photo-op time.  Heather hunched down as much as possible without kneeling in the snow and shot off a few pics.

“Honey,” she said, “pick her up so I can take your picture.”

I bent down and gingerly picked up the frozen water, twig, and rock being that we created.  I had to be careful.  She just had head-replacement surgery after all.

I held the snow-woman in my right hand and looked at Heather, waiting for her to snap the photo.

“Give me a thumbs up!” Heather commanded.

IMG_1359I put my left hand in the “thumbs-up” position and gave a cheesy smile.  You know, the “How you doin’” look.

She smiled, “You look cute!  Now let’s bring Silver Bell up to the lot.”

I couldn’t imagine what the plan was for “Silver Bell”, but I carefully held onto the balls of ice and made my way back up to the parking lot.  Once there, I had an idea to stick Silver Bell on top of one of the parking-lot markers.

“Don’t you break her!” Heather implored.

“She’s fine,” I responded.  The snow creature sat proudly on top of the marker.  Heather was pleased and went around to take a picture.  Unfortunately, the marker was tagged with graffiti, and Heather was no longer pleased.  

“We need to move her to the other sign!” Heather proclaimed.

I, once again, gently picked up the future-water-puddle in the parking lot and moved her to the other marker.  At that moment, Silver Bell’s head fell off, taking her right arm with it.  A one-armed, headless snow carcass remained on the post.

There was immediate panic as I reached down to rescue the head of old Silv.  I can call her Silv, we’re close that way.  Her head had a chunk taken out of it.  

“You need to rebuild her head,” Heather said.

She was right.  I grabbed some snow and reshaped the severed head of Silver Bell.  Heather grabbed the eye that fell out and handed it over.  I jammed it back into the snowball.  Optic nerve be damned!

I looked around for the arm that fell off, but had no luck locating it.  I pulled a twig off a nearby tree, but the twig was too green and Silver baby’s body was too frozen at this point for me to attach it too her.

Right at that moment, a mini van pulled up.  It had plates from California.  A woman jumped out.  We tried to play it cool.  Luckily, the head was back on so it didn’t look like complete snow-person carnage.  Actually, with only one arm, Silver Bell just looked like she was hitch hiking for a ride back down the mountain.

“Can I take a picture of your snowman?” The woman asked.

“Sure,” we said.  We didn’t want to cause any more awkwardness and explain that it was indeed a snow WOMAN.  Silver Bell wasn’t talking.  It was probably because we never went so far as to give her a mouth.

IMG_1366The woman from California was enamored with Silver Bell and took several pictures of her.  So much so that she didn’t even bother to look at the spectacular view of the snow-covered mountains that were the reason for the parking in the first place.

Just as quickly as the woman showed up, she was gone.  It was once again just the three of us.  Me, Heather, and Silver Bell.  The three of us decided that it was best Silver Bell stay in her home land.  We bid our farewell as Silver Bell decided to stay on her new home on top of the marker sign and welcome any new visitors with her single-armed wave.  She was always much more of an extrovert than Heather and I.

We hopped into the car, waved, and moved on.  Glancing in the rear-view mirror, Silver Bell was already making friends with a new group of travelers.  Maybe we’ll see her again, but I doubt it.  Temperatures are rising.


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