The Snowman’s Sprezzatura

Once constructed, snowmen move in only one of two directions, melting into the ground and/or evaporating into the air. The process of their demise correlates with a rise in relative humidity. Most snowmen are given form as a column or pile of snow, often marked to indicate two eyes, a nose, and a mouth.

The benchmark, classic snowman is a stack of three snowballs, each ascending ball smaller than the one below it. The balls are created by forming a normal size snowball and then rolling it upon the freshly fallen snow. The weight of the ball causes the snow on the ground to adhere to the ball by compressing an interlocking network of millions of snowflakes. A degree of melting aids this process. As a snowball rolls over fresh snow, a crunching sound is audible. This indicates compaction of the snow as it joins the massing ball. The sound is almost a groan, especially when the snowball reaches optimum size.

That night we turned the car in the driveway, aiming the headlights to illuminate our snowy creation. We sat watching the snowman, as if at a drive-in theatre, with our radio tuned to a classical music station. This evening it was opera. Inside the running auto we remained comfortable; our body warmth, as we snowman builders cuddled, was aided by the heat of the idling engine.

Glowing in the beams of our headlights, our snowman became a transcendent golden being. In the coming weeks, as the temperature rose, his melting defined sprezzatura, an effortless display of grace, as he slowly rejoined the earth and sky.

SandyThe Snowman’s Sprezzatura