Here’s the latest “Past Deadline,” published in The Perth Courier on March 7/13.

A super awesome snow fort

 I have been a pretty good sport about winter, I think.

When it snows I shovel and then have some exercise to share with my fitness buddies on Facebook. I cheerfully look out the window and think, “How wonderful! More snow for the kids to enjoy!”

Last week, though, I kind of hit the wall with winter. I think it was a February thing.

That big storm that featured shovelfuls of 11-tonne goopy snow was just…unappealing. And wet. (When I was a kid I used to call it “applesauce snow.” I didn’t eat it. I also didn’t have to shovel the horrible, heavy stuff.)

When my kids come home from school and peel off their snowpants, they leave a soggy, gritty mess on my kitchen floor. No matter how much I try to pretend that I am walking on a beach, it just doesn’t work. There are no margaritas to be seen.

The kids’ gloves and mittens are getting worn out. The boots are getting religious (holey). Replacements at this time of year take a lot of searching, and we loathe buying things now when we know everyone will grow a bunch by next season.

I’m tired of snow days and the chorus of “Maaaaaaaawm…do we have to goooooo? No one will be there! Are you working at home today? Maaaaaawm!!!!!”

And that part about there being more snow for the kids to enjoy? That’s just bullpucky. Everyone knows, because I told them in this here space, that I practically have to pry my kids out of the house with a crowbar to get them to play outside in the winter.

Back in January I waxed poetic about how I forced (with threats about screen removal) my kids to go outside one beautiful winter day and they reveled in the joy of building forts and climbing snowbanks. Why go around a snowbank when you can go over it? They had snowball wars. In fact, for a couple of weeks, they actually went outside on their own accord several times!


That silliness didn’t last long and soon we were back to screen addiction.

A few years back I helped organized some outdoor programs with the Friends of Murphys Point Park called Super Kids In Parks. They are designed to get children outside to have fun and learn something – to battle the nature deficit. Basically I got involved with it because of kids like mine.

Anyway, we’ve been running some this winter, starting with snowshoeing, then ice fishing. This past Sunday we did one on campfires, outdoor cooking and building a shelter.

You guys. We built a quinzhee. It was so cool! (Check it out here.)

Quinzhees are shelters made by piling up snow, letting it settle for a period of time and then hollowing it out. They have ventilation holes and an entrance.

They are a totally fancypants snow fort. (You just have to make sure to do it properly so that it is safe.)

It was awesome. The kids got totally into it. We also learned about building campfires and cooked some maple popcorn. When it was time to go, I had to call and call and call for my daughter and her friend to get out of the quinzhee and come home.


THAT is what it’s all about. That’s what I remember about childhood – staying outside all the time, ignoring our mothers calling us until our fathers “roared” for us to come home (and then we knew we’d better get moving).

I figure if Mother Nature dumps on us again before spring, I can probably make a quinzhee for the kids in the backyard. And maybe I’ll make a margarita for myself.



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