Follow the Recipe
Even when I was so young I was still mastering walking, we were encouraged to spend time outside. In the winter, the activities were varied and, because we were living in Winnipeg, often involved snow. . .lots of snow. Besides building snow forts and ice caves, we would build snowmen.
My parents taught us, make a big snow ball, then another one, not quite as big, and then another one, a bit smaller yet. Pile them up with the smallest on top, add a hat, carrot and two briquettes of coal and you had a snowman. That became my recipe.
One day, on the way to Jameswood Drive school, we saw a crowd of kids around an abomination. It was a monster of a snow thing, comprised of seven or nine large snowballs. In my juvenile mind, I didn't know what to call it because a snowman only had 3 snowballs. The other kids were still referring to it as a snowman but that just didn't sit right in my mind. Someone hadn't followed the recipe.
The rest of the way to school, we talked about the thing and what we could do about it. Of course, in my mind, the best plan was to kill it, destroy it, bring balance back to nature. All day I schemed on how this could be accomplished.
I knew I couldn't just run up to it and knock it over. Surely I would be caught and, even though I knew this thing was an abhorrent twist of nature, those who had built it wouldn't just let that happen and, if I was successful, they would destroy my world by TELLING MY PARENTS.
On the way home I checked it out again, continuing to work out some sort of plan. I talked it up with my brothers and they agreed, it had to come down without its executioners getting caught. We vowed to sneak back after dark and lay siege to it.
On the way back there after supper, we met other friends who were similarly minded. They told us others had already tried to crush the monster but the family in the house was keeping vigil, had vowed to remain on watch all night if they had to. ALL NIGHT. I was forced to go to bed without my quest being completed, the world not made safe from such creations.
On the way to school the next day, the thing still stood tall. If glaring eyes could topple such monstrosities, it would have been a heap but my attempts to rid the world of its overwhelming presence were fruitless. It taunted me on the way home as well.
But, the next morning, low and behold, the evil thing lay in a heap of tinted snow, protruding sticks that had been arms, and a red scarf. My heart felt released. There were rumours abounding about who had brought the mighty beast to its demise. I was introduced to at least three kids as 'the one who knocked it over' each accepting credit. They were all gods in my eyes.
Then a sadness washed over me. I began to think about how much time and effort that family had put into building their snow creature, creating something from the nothing of snowflakes. I knew how much time it took me to build my little snowmen and how profoundly grievous it was when someone knocked them over. Had we rid the world of a monster or simply destroyed an accomplishment?
I never again looked at recipes as something that had to be followed explicitly. Mixing them up a bit can bring variety to ones life. I no longer felt a non-traditional snowman had to be knocked over. That's not to say I never knocked over another one, after all, I was still a brat, but before I did, I always took the time to appreciate the creativity that went into its creation.
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