Posted by: Kate | December 8, 2009


I’m a smart woman. I don’t have all of the answers to every question, but usually, if I put my mind to it, I can come up with a reasonable guess. It’s rare for me to be completely baffled, even by things that initially appear mysterious or confusing.

But right now? I am thoroughly, completely, utterly bemused. Clueless. Flummoxed. I simply cannot come up with even a rough approximation, much less an acceptable explanation. Perhaps you’re smarter…

Here’s what I know. Early Tuesday morning, I got the kids up to school and drove the hour-plus to the house in New Hampshire, with plans to meet the plumber and the furnace guy for various winterization efforts. They arrived on time, did their work as planned, and left without incident, which is an excellent thing because I was thoroughly distracted by the mystery in the front yard.

What mystery, you ask? Why, this one:


That right there? That’s a snowman. A very well-built, solid, big snowman, measuring approximately six feet tall, with the smallest of his component snowballs reaching about two feet in diameter. He was vertical at one point, judging by the sand stuck to the exposed bottom edge, though he has fallen over – there were no tire marks, handprints or other indications that he was deliberately pushed – and thus his head is a bit cracked in places.

This is not the result of a random, passing impulse. This would have taken considerable time and effort, and it is a well-done creation.

There was no note, sign, or other form of signature to offer any hint as to the artist.

Weird, right?

But wait, there’s more!

There’s only about three inches of snow in the yard, with similarly scant accumulation in the rest of the neighborhood. There are many tracks all over the front yard – all a bit larger than my own footprint, which is a women’s size 11 – but when you make a very large (or even only moderately-sized) snowman, you roll the balls around the yard to collect more snow, and this leaves telltale paths, often all the way down to bare earth as the snowballs grow. There wasn’t a single such track on the lawn, or on any of the adjoining properties.

The first snow of the year occurred this past Sunday, two days before I visited. To our knowledge, no one – including the Realtor – has been at the house since then. The doors were locked, with no sign that anyone had been inside since Willem visited last week. There was no snow on top of the snowman. It’s an extremely quiet neighborhood, with fairly attentive neighbors who would let us know if they saw something disturbing going on at the house.

I am befuddled.

I cannot hazard a guess as to the nature of the act. It could be a benevolent gesture, a holiday-spirit kind of thing, but then why not claim credit? Or it could be a bizarre prank (which, if so, earns it high praise as Best Prank Ever, because it is not harmful or embarrassing, is easy to clean up, was completely unexpected, and has utterly scrambled my brain), but why target an empty house that was once inhabited by a family without terribly extensive community ties?

And where did they get the snow? Where did they build it? How did they transport and deliver it? Who built it, and was it the act of a single person or a group?

I don’t know who, I don’t know how, I don’t know when, I don’t know where. And I certainly don’t know why.

My mother claims it’s a Christmas miracle, but I’m not quite ready to contact the church about it… L suggested adolescent prank, though we don’t know a single Rochester-area adolescent and it just doesn’t have the feel of a teenage prank… Jenny suggested that I go get a bottle of beer to arrange next to the fallen-down figure, sort of like a Public Service Announcement about the dangers of drinking… I’m starting to suspect a strange, zombie-like, self-creating, mobile snow civilization, and can’t decide whether to find that alarming or to hire it to keep an eye on the house while it’s in the neighborhood.

I’m flabbergasted. Truly.

How about you? Ideas? Guesses? Thoughts? Anything?



  1. What are the buttons made out of?

    Do you have a white pine tree on your property, the sort of which the arms came from?

    Regardless of where it came from, it’s pretty neat. Did you try to resurrect him?

  2. I put that snow man on your lawn and I deliberately pushed it over. The snow is from the Sierra Mountains out here in California. And since you don’t have any better explanation, your are stuck believing me. Ha! I hope you liked it.

  3. Lisa, yes, the materials are all from the property, or at least they could be. The buttons are little circles of pebbles, could be from our driveway. I did not try and lift him, I’m certain I’m not strong enough or well-balanced enough on my own and I couldn’t figure out a way to casually ask the plumber to help.

    Plus I was too busy looking askance and giggling.

    Agreed, though… very neat. In a bizarre, bizarre kind of way.

    Nili, thanks. Now I can sleep at night.

  4. Calvin did it, I’m just sure of it.

    And I think it’s awesome, much better to find a snowman, even a tipped over one, than the Holy Family arranged around the porta-pot in your front yard like one of our neighbors did this morning.

    And the lady down the street whose Holy Family had been swiped and arranged around the porta-pot is NOT amused. She’s claiming religious persecution, when it’s nothing more than a teen-aged prank.

  5. Had an X who grew up in VT. He bragged that he and his buddies would steal baby Jesús from people’s displays. I never found it amusing, and not even for religious reasons.

  6. The snow thing is what confuses me….but, are you sure it’s solid snow? I mean, it could have a core that is something else (no, I don’t know what else), and just the outside is covered. Maybe not the head, but the bottom parts.

    I suspect that there is a simple explanation. I over-think things, so I have no idea what that would be.

  7. Funny!! Last year the teens in our neighborhood rearranged the lighted reindeer in our front yard into, ahem, a compromising position. I thought it was funny; Bobby did not. I suspect it would have been funnier to him were it not for the 4yo asking, “Why are the deer wrestling?”

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