f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

February 24, 2008

snowman (r)evolution – Part II

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 3:56 pm

The History of the Snowman(2007; cover detail)

My promise (in Part I) to continue the snowman concept this weekend here at f/k/a, is smacking up uncomfortably with my general promise to stop spending so much time working online and on weblogs. Like some of our chronic little wintry-mix storms this winter, I think I’ll slip in a quickie posting now, messing up my personal traffic flow, and threaten to come back later this evening after everyone is safe on their sofa or futon of choice (perhaps with the Oscar ceremony on as background noise; click here for Part III).

warm spell —
their Christmas puppy laps up
our snow buddha

……. by dagosan

Since I posted on Friday evening, I made the “mistake” of discovering the recently-released book called “The History of the Snowman: From the Ice Age to the Flea Market,” by Bob Eckstein (Simon & Schuster, 2007); along with its official website, the Today’s Snowman weblog; and the enjoyable chapter-by-chapter pictorial YouTube Preview of the book. That cover detail at the top of the post should be excuse enough for the resulting expansion of my Snowman Evolution theme. If you’re at all intrigued by these primitive, frosty folk-statuary, Eckstein’s book and website offer much information (often witty) and distraction for a wintry day (and probably also for a summer day while slurping a snow-cone). In addition to some great photos of snow-person art (for example):

– Swiss Alp Couple, see larger at Today’s Snowman.

and the ability to vote on your favorite snowman in a (sometimes raucously rivalrous and mud-slinging) monthly contest, you’ll find Sidebar features such as Ask the Snowman Expert. To my amazement, I had to go to Today’s Snowman to discover The Great Rotterdam Snowman, which exists in all its glory only a few miles away from me as I type, in the Schenectady suburb of Rotterdam, is purportedly built by a lawyer (identity unknown as yet to me; update: it’s Jeff Older, who apparently is not a lawyer, but does work with an Albany law firm), and 12 feet tall (if not 14):

The Great Rotterdam [NY] Snowman, via Today’s Snowman weblog

update (March 5, 2008):  The Great Rotterdam Snowman won the February 2008 Snowman Contest at Today’s Snowman; see our report  and analysis. An article in the Schenectady Gazette helped boost GRS to victory.

Perhaps more amazing for this lover of snowpersons and resident of the Schenectady Historic Stockade District, the site of the 1690 Schenectady Massacre, I was not aware of the role played by snowmen in that pivotal piece of local history, until referred to it by Today’s Snowman. The Schenectady Massacre was an attack against the tiny village of Schenectady, in the Dutch colony of New York on February 8, 1690. It was carried out by a party of over 200 French and Sault and Algonquin Indian raiders. As explained at Wikipedia:

“Late on February 8, when a scouting party reported that no one was guarding the stockade at Schenectady, a decision was made to attack at once, despite the bitter cold. The original target was Fort Orange (present day Albany), but when Schenectady was discovered to be defenseless the raiding party decided to attack here instead.

“The local legend is that Schenectady and Albany had somewhat of a rivalry. Albany tended to gloat about its size over the smaller settlement of Schenectady. Therefore, when Albany sent a warning to the settlement about an approaching raiding party, Schenectady decided to show it wouldn’t be fooled by their ‘fake’ words of warning. Schenectady’s children built a snowman as the guard, which greeted the French and Algonquin raiding party the night of February 8th.”

[larger] Eckstein displays a fine sketch of the feckless SnowGuards in a posting at his site, and retells the tale in Chapter 12 of The History of the Snowman (pp. 110 – 112). In the book, author Eckstein asks”Was the first snowman in America made in Schenectady, New York, on the eve of one of the bloodiest days in early American history?” He concludes: “We may never know whether this was the first American snowman, but the Schenectady Snowman is definitely the earliest reference to one.”

update (Nov. 29, 2008): I just declared Schenectady “SnowmanCity, NY“, since Bob is coming to make a presentation at our Library and a Book Signing at the Open Door Bookstore, on Sunday, December 7, 2008.

a neighborhood
with no front yards –
not a snowman in sight

………. by dagosan

The story of the snowman and the Massacre that occurred down the block makes my plaintive poem above seem even sadder than when I wrote it two years ago. But, it gives me a great excuse for finally thanking Owen McLaughlin and Jennifer Murray for building this Snow Dude right outside my window, at the corner of Cucumber Alley and Washington Avenue, last year (see Stockade Spy, April 2007):

Rare sighting: a Stockade Snowman

Owen and Jennifer made their snowman especially magical by changing his hat and glasses frequently during his short stay. I do not know who built another rare Stockade snowperson down the block in January 2008, but I was entranced by a lovely model of the Statue of Liberty, and saddened that her predictably short life was shortened considerably by a dreadful spell of 50-degree weather last month.

January thaw
Snow Liberty leaves
a salad in the mud

…… by dagosan (haiga photo by Mama G, 1953)

sunrise —
nothing on the snowman
stops the drip

……. by Gary Hotham

Easter rain
you can tell
it was a snowman

……………….. by John Stevenson – Pilgrimage, 2006

Enough for now. I must salvage some daylight and perhaps scout for more snowmen. First, though I want to thank those who organized yesterday’s Winter Festival in Schenectady’s Central Park (see the Sunday Gazette, Feb. 24, 2008). I must say, however, that I was disappointed to find neither a Snow Bocce event (despite our example), nor a snowman-making contest or exhibit, despite a few inches of packable snow on Friday.

Try back late this evening (or, maybe tomorrow) for a little more snowman musing. [It took a couple days, but the last of this series, Part III, went up on Feb. 26, 2008; called “snobesity,” it depicts how “Americans have long imbued their snowmen with the same frailties, foibles and fate as human” — including our broadening butts.]

after snowfall
a Buddha on the lawn
with coal eyes

……………. by Jim Kacian- from Presents of Mind

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