Let's Build a Snowman

May 24, 2010
The sun glittered brightly across the freshly fallen snow. Samantha trudged along the sidewalk, her feet making indents in the top layer of snow. She knew that underneath the top few inches of snow, there lay a foot or so of thick ice. She remembered sliding across it the week before, watching her younger brother skate around almost as if he was a professional skater.
As Samantha walked along, her feet began to slip deeper into the freshly fallen snow. Glancing to the right, she could see what should be the driveway to a house. Now, however, it was covered in over four feet of snow. The driveway had evidently been cleared previously so that the resident could escape quickly to work, should the need arise. After the blizzard, the snow had once again claimed its territory on the driveway.
Along the sidewalk, trees sagged from their snow load. Ahead of her, Samantha could see small snow piles plunging from their perch on the trees. As she approached the fallen snow piles, Samantha shoved her foot into the mound. The soft snow easily gave way to her foot. Behind her, the imprints of her shoes showed her path. The path wound around corners, across mounds of snow, and ice covered streets. Samantha’s pale brown eyes searched the space in front of her. They darted across the landscape attempting to pick out the ice patches that covered the ground.
Samantha thought, as she continued on her journey through the snow, that the ice made it seem like someone had spilled water all over the ground. She knew that the weather was cold enough to almost instantly freeze the water.
Across the street, Samantha could see a young boy and girl rolling snow into an overly large ball. A few feet from the pair, she could see an additional oversized ball. Instantly, Samantha knew that they were building a snowman. It was the traditional thing for younger kids to do. Samantha knew that if you look hard enough while you were walking through the streets, that you could see traces of a snowmen that had been built and crushed by the blizzard.
Samantha’s mind wandered back to her childhood. She remembered the excitement of the first snow. Everyone her age had come together to build the biggest snowman they would. Often, they would have competitions with the older children that lived on the block. Samantha smiled to herself. She knew that as she romped along the snow covered sidewalk that she was on her way to the yearly snowman building competition. She knew that this would be the year that her friends and she would win the competition.
As she rounded the last corner, Samantha saw the crowd that had gathered at the neighborhood park. It was bigger than the crowd that had come last year to watch the children build snowmen like there was no tomorrow. Samantha couldn’t tell how many more people were attending this year. A rush of adrenaline shot through her. All these people were here, and would see Samantha and her gang win the snowman competition for the first time.
Crossing the street to the park became a tiresome ordeal. As Samantha’s feet left the sidewalk and collided with the ice covered street, she began to slip and slide. Luckily, she slid in the direction of the park. After balancing herself, Samantha proceeded toward the park, taking carefully planned baby steps to avoid falling. When she reached the safety of the park, Samantha no longer felt that she was going to fall on her butt and embarrass herself.
Her friends found her easily; she was the only one wearing a bright turquoise jacket. They led her to the spot they had chosen to build their snowman. The judges had already taped off their spot, ensuring that no other team would be allowed to use snow from that area or build their snowman there.
At precisely eleven o’clock, the bell sounded, announcing the start of the competition. Samantha went to work rolling the ball for the head of her team’s snowman. Each person in their group had been given a part in helping. Samantha knew that it was going to take every bit of help to create their six ball tall snowman. She barely noticed her friends around her as she rolled the small snowball she had created into a head-sized snowball. It was Samantha’s job to decorate the face of the snowman with charcoal pieces, a carrot, and an over-sized top hat she had borrowed from her grandfather. As she meticulously placed the charcoal pieces into the mouth area, Samantha chanced a glance at the competition.
The other children that were competing were younger than her. The members of Samantha’s team were the oldest children who had competed in the competition before. The snowmen from the other teams were already being assembled.
Of course they don’t have a plan like us, Samantha thought to herself. Samantha hadn’t known that the older teams always had a plan to create the winning snowman. It was a secret passed down to the second oldest team at the end of winter. The team would then use that knowledge the next year, and in turn pass it down to the next team, thus continuing the tradition for years.
As the end of the competition drew near, Samantha’s team began to assemble their snowman. When they had the snowman stacked up with five balls, it was time to put Samantha’s snowman head on top. With a ladder, a few boys from her group gently placed the snowman’s head on the top. No cheers went up as the snowman’s structure was completed. Samantha then began to wrap the blue and purple striped scarf around the neck of the snowman. Her friends finished sliding a jacket around the snowman’s wooden arms and fastened the buttons. As the final button was fastened, and the scarf was adjusted over the jacket, cheers finally erupted from Samantha’s team.
The entire team turned to look around at the competition. Some snowmen were leaning. Others had on no jackets or scarves. A few, Samantha noticed, had only a single eye, while others had a few unnecessary extras. She nodded to herself, confident that they would win the prize. A smile crossed her face. Her thoughts raced toward the prize she had coveted for years. Free hot chocolate for the entire year. Free until the next snowman building competition, when a new winner would be announced. The winner was always announced by the previous winner, which Samantha hoped would be her team this year.
When the competition time came to an end, Samantha watched the judges wander through the maze of snowmen. Some were taller than the judges, which made Samantha laugh. She wasn’t clear as to how the younger kids had gotten the snowmen stacked up so high, seeing as they looked like midgets to her. As the judges approached her group’s snowman, Samantha saw them all smile and nod, making marks on their judging cards. The judges continued to scrutinize the snowmen around Samantha.
At two o’clock in the afternoon, the judges announced that they had determined the winner of the annual snowman building competition. Samantha’s team and the other teams gathered around the stage that had been set up in the park for this specific event. One of the judges, a young man named Greg, stepped up to the microphone. As he cleared his throat, the tension exploded in the air.
“We would like to announce that the winner of the annual snowman building competition is…” Greg said, drawing out the end of the statement. He watched as the group leaned forward, practically climbing onto the stage to know who the winner was. Greg continued after a brief pause, “…the seventeen to nineteen age group!”
Screams exploded all around Samantha. They had won the competition! Samantha let out a scream and began hugging her friends. Cheers continued to come from her teammates for a few minutes. As the group walked onto the stage, they all received small trophies for winning, along with their free hot chocolate cards.
Samantha looked down at the card. Printed in perfect letters the directions told her to PRESENT THIS CARD ANYTIME YOU WOULD LIKE FREE HOT CHOCOLATE. Samantha beamed as her team was congratulated on their win. As the excitement came to an end and everyone began leaving, Samantha turned toward the coffee shop a few blocks away and began walking. Behind her, her teammates began to follow suite and followed her to the coffee shop, ear to ear smiles still plastered across their faces.

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