Quinzhee memories

PTC* had a sweet photo on his post the other day that reminded me of something I haven’t thought of in ages. Twenty years ago when they were eight or nine, H and her best friend L used to cross the road from our house on winter weekends and mine into and through the piles of snow tossed up by the plows clearing the elementary school parking lot. They had a great time. One Saturday, though, a pretty good snow got H and me talking about igloos. We had neither enough nor the right type of snow for that, but I thought we did have enough for a go at a quinzhee, a show shelter excavated out of a mound of snow that you pile up and let settle into reasonable compactness.

Out we went with a couple of shovels. Rough circle inscribed in snow, then the hard work of ferrying more white stuff from farther and farther away to build up the mound. A lunch break to let it set up, then back out to create an entry and burrow our way in to expand the space. I think we inserted some sticks or something through the snow so we’d know we were getting close to the surface. We managed to hollow out a cozy little dome for ourselves before fatigue and the chill took us back inside.

Sometime later, L appeared, and the two girls headed back out to enlarge and improve upon the shelter. I was working in the kitchen, which had a window overlooking the back yard and the quinzhee. I’d look out occasionally to see how things were going, usually to see just the structure itself with the occasional puff of snow emitting from the entrance/exit. Then, coming back from the stove to the sink, I peeked again. Utter disaster. Snow rubble. Avalanche run-out zone. Thinking the worst (asphyxiating children panicking under hardpack), I sprinted out the door…to find both girls emerging casually from the destruction and laughing. We spent the next few minutes dancing wildly about, happily reducing the remains to snowdust.

The girls are still best friends and were maid of honor and best woman at each others weddings (the term “matron” is absolutely not countenanced). H, of course, now has sweet B, and L is due with her first in a few months. So I’ll soon have two more little people to build faulty structures with so we can celebrate their destruction before some wiser person calls us all in for hot chocolate.


Quinzhee memories — 1 Comment

  1. As boys, my brothers and I used to burrow into sand dunes on our summer holidays. There were one or two occasions when we had to pull each other out by the feet as the tunnel collapsed.

    We got into quite a bit of bother with our Dad, we did…

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