Snow Pile on Grand Ave. in St. Paul

I wish I had scanned this sketch of my latest snow pile "catch" before putting it into my journal, but you still get the idea…click on the image to view an enlargement. (And excuse the writo, of course it's Mont Blanc.)

Sunday I was out and about for a couple quick errands and didn't take my pack. Dick had his checkbook with him. Yes, he still uses a checkbook, and it's a lucky thing too because Dick also still uses a fountain pen and it's always with him (actually several, each holding a different color ink are always with him).

When we parked the car and walked towards our destination (Wet Paint, to pick up art supplies, which included my just-arrived special order of two-toned Pearl Ex stamp pad reinkers in evidence on the page!) I saw this bit of bicycle sticking out of the snow pile, or rather snow bank at the side of the pedestrian walkway. This is definitely an abandoned bike.

Since I didn't have any paper with me I asked for a sheet of their note pad at WP when we were leaving. And then I borrowed Dick's pen. I knew I had to draw this snow bank before getting back into the car.  I had to hold the loose sheet in my hand with no backing, and Dick's pen has a wider nib than I'm used to, but the air was a balmy 23 degrees F. or so. Just fine for sketching.

And for people who don't live here, yes, right now, after all the snow we have had this winter, we have huge snow "hedges" that run the length of the streets, separating the road from the walkways, with short corridors broken through them for drivers to get back to their cars.

Now when I say huge, I mean often over 5 feet tall. We are literally running out of places to put snow throughout the Twin Cities.

At home the snow from the driveway has been tossed into the yard and pretty much buries the 5-foot tall fence. Since we no longer have dogs who might decide to go investigating and walk out on these banks of snow, it isn't really a problem. But there is something I really, really miss related to snow piles.

Dottie loved to go snow diving. When there were big piles of snow in the yard I would lob her red ball (which was actually always a blue rubber ball, but that's a long story) up into the air so it would fall straight down into a snow pile. Dottie would crouch and spring straight up into the air, her body in a perfect hairpin fold. In mid air her hind legs would ratchet back effortlessly like a platform diver and she would become an arrow of intent, disappearing into the drift, surfacing seconds later with a snow plastered face and of course, red ball.

If you would like to see a reenactment of this feat, find the documentary "Yellowstone: Battle for Life." About halfway through this stunningly photographed record of wildlife in a harsh, snowy climate, a fox performs this simple ballet. And you see the tilting of its head as it listens to the creatures under the snow. This is exactly what Dottie would do when playing in fields. The same excitement and controlled tension in her body. The game came from a survival skill of course.

I caught the exact moment of the documentary while channel flipping one day. It took my breath away. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but those teeth are dazzlingly bright.

Snow piles, you never know the things you'll find in them—including memories.


  1. Best snow pile sketch ever, Roz! Inspiring!

  2. Ken, I hoped you would enjoy it because it mixes snow piles and bicycles together!
    The search continues. Roz

  3. Love the way you summed this up, never knowing what you'll find in snow piles. A great story and, as usual, a great sketch.

  4. Oh, Roz! This is wonderful!!! :)


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