Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snow Fort

This weekend I built a big snow fort in my yard. The technical name for the structure I specialize in is a "quincy", which is basically a hollowed out pile of snow.

There are very few steps involved when building a quincy. First you make a big pile of snow. Next you wait for it to settle (I usually wait a day). Then you hollow it out. That's it! After these steps you have a little winter shelter or a neat clubhouse for kids.

When I was a kid I remember building a couple of quincys with my Dad. Then, later on, I used to make them every year with my friend. When I got older I kind of forgot all about this great winter activity.

The first winter I moved back from BC I decided that snow forts would again become a regular winter pastime.

Since then there were a couple of years when the snow just didn't work out. Last year my quincy caved in on itself after the first day because the weather warmed up suddenly on me.

This year I was starting to think the fort wasn't going to happen. We had a lot of snow at the start of the winter but very little since. Over the last couple of weeks we had a lot of blowing snow and this caused a ton of snow to accumulate in my yard. It looked like we were going to be a "go" for operation snow fort after all!

'Devil or Angel' was really in to the fort idea this year. Previous years she had been too small to really get involved. The first year I built a really good fort she was too scared to go inside. She just sat at the entrance and looked in. Well this year she was going to be my prime helper.

On Friday I made the mistake of mentioning that I might build a fort this weekend. All Saturday 'Devil or Angel' kept bugging me. "Can we make the snow fort now? Can we make the snow fort now?" Unfortunately the weather was surprisingly mild on Saturday and the snow was way too sticky. I was starting to think that I'd spoken too soon. Nothing ruins good quincy snow like warm weather!

Luckily, by Sunday it was cold again!

That afternoon 'Devil or Angel' and I headed out to make a pile of snow. We ended up clearing out a huge section of the yard. In the end the snow pile was a solid 5.5 feet high and the base had a diameter of around 12-14 feet. For the rest of the day 'Devil or Angel' and I kept looking longingly at our beautiful pile of snow. The anticipation was killing us!

Monday arrived and I decided that we/I would dig out the fort after lunch. I hadn't even begun to dig and 'Devil or Angel' and 'Let's Go Crazy' were already fighting over who would get to go in first.

It was not a mild day at all. I think it was -34 with the wind chill while I was hollowing out the fort. I struck into the south-east corner of the snow pile declaring that this would be the door. After a bit of digging the kids wanted to go in and check it out. As I had only been digging for two minutes they were only able to slide in up to their waists. They came out and I dug some more. They went in again. This time they could get all the way in. Then I dug some more. Now they could sit up. This went on and on.

Eventually I had enough room so that I could stand on my haunches and really get some serious digging done. The problem with this is that you end up with a ton of snow that needs to exit the fort. I kept throwing it towards the doorway. Usually when you have a helper the helper clears the snow from the entrance while the digger digs out the innards. Since my helper was a rookie this year she didn't know that this was her job. She was more interested in playing around the outside of the fort. I can't begin to describe how hard it is to clear all of that snow out a hole that is no more that a foot and a half high.

After about an hour and a half I was completely soaked through and we had a respectable fort that could easily seat 4.

I assume it met the kids standards because they wanted to eat their supper out there last night.

Another successful snow fort adventure!

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