Corvus Design Blog

December 6, 2010

Memories of Winter Play

On this blog, facebook and twitter we’ve been asking people for their memories of winter play. We’ve learned from other people that a great way to get people started on play discussions is to use an ice-breaker of “what are your memories of play?”. Our goal with the social media we are using is to try to create a dialogue… so, here’s some of the dialogue (and please share your own memories via comments):

  • As a kid growing up in the suburbs of New York, we had one of the biggest and flattest yards in the neighborhood, so whenever it finally got cold enough, we turned on the hose and our yard became the neighborhood skating rink. Everyone would bring their skates, and there would be neighbors and even people we didn’t know skating at all hours of the day. Despite my parent’s fears, we never had a hockey puck go through a window, but there was a prominent ding from one in the cedar siding below my sister’s room. It certainly was a great way to meet your neighbors and make new friends. In hindsight, maybe I should have been charging admission! – Gary Max, Sitelines
  • Ice skating in Guelph with a bunch of friends. On hockey skates for the first time. Then back to Trash for Jager warm ups. Or, the first time I saw it snow in Van. 1am. Went outside with my girlfriends and impromtu snow ball fight with neighbours down the street.- Tawny Darbyshire
  • Tobogganing!! – Mike Leznoff
  • Making an 8 foot tall ramp at the bottom of a big hill (& 4 foot landing ramp) then launching off it with those old school 3-ski sleds.- David Kitaq Nicolai
  • Moved to anchorage when i was 12… soon learning to downhill ski at russian jack and arctic valley. wasted a couple pairs of good gloves on that rope tow. arctic valley had speakers on the roof of the lodge blasting music to most of the …mountain. when i got a little better, started going to alyeska. just two chairs then. rode there on a school bus, did as many runs as possible with a short lunch break in the crappy old plywood day lodge… bowl of soup and one of those big cinnamon rolls [it cost 80 cents then]… fell asleep on the bus coming back, after singing 30 or 40 courses of ’99 bottles of beer on the wall’. – Clark Yerrington
  • Tobogganing with my sisters and cousins while uncle John used his sled to drive us back up the hill… Always squished between Meghan and Andrea! – Colleen Dear
  • Digging tunnels through snowbanks, sliding down giant parking lot mountains of snow, using cafeteria trays for sleds on observatory hill until we get yelled at, cross-country skiing and inevitably falling over to avoid hitting a tree, and going back inside for hot cocoa.- Meredith Session
  • Feeding the birds – Jo Lorichon
  • In Anchorage, we’d have snow football games at Russian Jack, when there was a deep layer of snow with lots of of fresh stuff on top (virgin snow) to run and fall into. Tiring, but fun! I also like to put sleep pads on the ground and look at stars, since we don’t get to do it in the summer. – Nancy Casey
  • Tobogganing down a large slide onto the river ar Lockport, as teenager. Buiding snowforts and having snowball fights with the neighbour kids. – BJ Briggs 
  • As a young child, I lived in a suburb of Montreal. I was in grade 2. I won a competition and received a rocket as the prize. At recess, which was total snow and ice,I fell in the play area – major blow to my forehead. The school sent me home. My poor mom opened the door to find me looking like an alien and also proud as punch that I won the rocket!  – Paulette Vinette
  • Building a snowcave from the pile made by dads snowblower and sitting inside where you can’t hear the world around you – Mark Kosmos
  • Sledding. snowmachining. building tunnels. skating. snowball fights. – Teresa Markham
  • As a kid…ice fishing with my uncle on Mille Lacs Lake, MN, digging out huge snow tunnels in snowpiles, tobogganing down the “suicide hill” at Worth Park in Minneapolis. As an adult…learning to nordic ski at the Michigan Tech trails in Houghton, alpine skiing,and catching big walleyes ice fishing. Can’t decide if my premier winter funtime was when my wife and I staying at the IceHotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden or when we were in the hot pond at Chena Hot Springs when it was -20. – Patrick Coleman
  • When I lived in the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan, I spent hours building snow forts on my own or with friends (always with a small chamber to be the “fridge” for some reason), and once sculpting a penguin out of the snow at the entrance to their driveway. A penguin? Why not… – Peter Briggs
  • Akin to Peter’s thoughts; in the interior the wind would form compacted snowdrifts that reached the roofs. As children we would dig a network of tunnels and chambers that would wind their way in a seemingly endless fashion. I always dreamed of the day I would lose pursuing enemies by vanishing into the snowdrift catacombs. Fortunately, such eventual disappointments failed to temper my imagination. – Mike Rutledge
  • Nice, Mike. The snowdrifts extended through the midwest as well and digging tunnels was my #1 wintertime activity (just ahead of toboganning and pretending to be a figure skater). My favorite digging tool: an old tennis racket. – Laura Minski
  • A few years back, the Freeze project was an engaging temporary installation that celebrated the winter urban environment which I enjoyed participating in. Previously – I had been consumed with finding large icicles to climb which took me to some interesting locales in and out of AK. As a young boy – I used to tromp around the woods at my grandmothers and build fires to melt snow – I don’t really know why – I guess fires were somehow cooler in the snow. – Chad Taylor
  • Snow Ice Cream. Two scoops snow, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp milk. Mix. Sprinkle with cinnamon and/or chocolate sprinkles. – Blain Anderson
  • In Southeast Alaska our snow tends to be wet but packs down nicely to make a very fast sledding run. The wet snow unfortunately minimizes your sledding time until you become soaking wet and cold. To overcome this, some people will wear their rain gear over their winter clothes to keep dry. The downside is that when you have to hop off the toboggan because of a tree your rubberized rain gear will keep you going down the hill just as fast. Our wet snow also allows us to make the best snow forts and snow creatures. They typically have a short life span in Southeast. – Chris Mertl
  • I grew up in Iowa and one of my best childhood play experiences, isn’t the safest, but we had deep grater ditches for the snow plow to dump into so we would dig a snow tunnel and play inside. As a mother of 3 active boys in the state of Washington we went out and built a huge dinosaur out of packed snow. The tail was made as steps and then the kids used his neck and head as the slide. Every child that saw him thought it was awesome! We also made a standing snow bunny 6’ high and used frosting coloring to color his jacket and ears. Our neighbor built a snow woman. This isn’t new by today’s standards in Alaska but this was 35 years ago and not seen that much in Western Washington. We lived in a hilly area  and the kids built snow jumps to Go airborne on the sleds! Needles to say this was not CPSC or IPEMA certified play!- Kendal Dionne, Northwest Playgrounds