Thursday, December 10, 2009

And Since We've No Place To Go...

The post counter ticks ever closer to 200 (10 more to go after this one, we're in the home stretch!). I think I'll do something special. Maybe retrospective, maybe prospective. Maybe a little bit of both; stay tuned.

With so many posts, I often find myself searching my own archives when writing new posts. It's getting to the point where I can't remember if I've written something or not. Turns out that I've written next to nothing about snow. Snow, of all things! Weird. Good thing, I suppose, that I haven't covered EVERY topic yet. Consistently posting is hard enough as-is.

Snow is basically the best precipitation that can happen on this planet. Sure, golf ball sized hail is pretty snazzy, but are you sure you like the roofing bills (to speak nothing of insurance premiums!) that come with it? Snow is relatively benign, and what it does is provide anyone that's interested with a more or less limitless supply of sculpting material*. It's by no means the most accurate, nor the most comfortable to work with for hours on end, but it's free and it's omnipresent. The potential that snow has goes tragically unrealized year after year; snow could mean free public art wherever you go. I mean, yeah it'll be a lot of snowmen. So what? Give people time, maybe toss them a Calvin and Hobbes'd see them start to push the envelope. Or, you know, make snowforts. But we should encourage that, too. Heck, I think we should have pinnies that we can wear over our coats that mean "it is OK to start a snowball fight with me/I will have your back if you're already in one and need help"! There was an article I saw a while back about how during winter, you gain the ability to see how the paths people actually take differ from the ones that are provided from them by the city. I think we need to take these lessons further. Snow is tabula rasa, and yet we spend so much time and effort plowing and scraping and salting just to fight back the tide, get back what we had before, but do we ever stop and think "Hey...we could have more!"?

*It's also good for building shelter, throwing at people, etc.

At this point I should clarify that I'm not really trying to advocate snow as an agent of anarchist policy. This is more food for thought than it is a polemic. We have a plain white canvas that descends from the sky and stays for about four months...Why DON'T we do more with it than we do? Is it one of those stupid 'maturity' rules, like it's suddenly not OK to start rolling up a snowball past the age of 25? Why DON'T you see more street artists working in the medium of snow when winter rolls around (when conditions are right, you can and will see me making mini snowpeople whilst waiting for the bus. I usually leave 'em on a bench or whatever surface is handy. They don't last long, but snow as a medium does have a certain expected ephemerality)? I implore you to imagine a city that enrobes itself in snow: ornamental arches, ice slides, forts, walls, snowmen and women - rather than one which pushes it aside and grumbles until the spring. I would have told you yesterday that my great regret about last winter was not tobogganing on Citadel Hill. Now  I can see that what I - what we - miss every winter is the chance to live in the same fantasy snow-land seen in christmas/holiday film and TV! Some cities try a little harder than others in this regard: Quebec and Ottawa get points for Carnaval and Winterlude, respectively. I think that Halifax's plentiful public spaces could play host to all manner of snowcraft. I'm sure that to some extent, they already do...but we can do better!



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