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Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

Where have all the snowmen gone?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In elementary school, I remember singing a song called "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"

It was a rather depressing song for youngsters to sing. The premise of the Peter Seeger melody: All the flowers went to young girls, who married young men. Those young men were transformed into soldiers and later filled graveyards, which were eventually covered with flowers again. It's a picture of how war interrupts the cycle of life.

The plight of the snowmen is not nearly as serious.

Before drawing that conclusion, first consider this recent history lesson.

Winter was a really fun season when I was a kid. We lived in an addition of houses just outside the Fort Dodge city limits. This area was complete with a large hill leading to a small pond.

Yes, in the summer it was fun to roll down the hill, explore the wooded area on the far side of the pond, hide out in the forts we had built, fish and catch aquatic wildlife -- ranging from crawdads to frogs. We also mowed lawns and did odd jobs to earn spending money.

But, in the winter, the whole neighborhood turned into a wonderland of sorts.

In addition to the snow-covered hill for sledding and the iced-over pond for sliding -- skating has never been a strong suit of mine -- a large snow pile was created at the top of that hill.

That large, white pile had also as many uses as our Swiss Army knives. We tunneled in and around it, made it into a fort, hid behind it as we threw snowballs at each other and the unsuspecting passersby, and played king of the hill. In itself, the fort was really a fortress, complete with beverage holders and a secret snowball stashing spot.

Snowmen and homemade forts adorned the yards of the neighborhood, right along with Christmas lights, lawn ornaments and nativity scenes.

No amount or degree of cold could keep us out of the yard or off the hill, especially with hot chocolate or apple cider waiting for us in a warm home.

Then again, we didn't have TV until I was about 10 years old, so maybe that makes sense.

Pause for the collective gasp.

The funny thing was, we were rarely, if ever bored. Once we got that box in our living room -- with basic channels only, mind you -- it became a daily part of our life and we forgot how to stay busy, entertain ourselves and have fun otherwise.

In that regard, I can relate to these kids that have so many more options than were available to me.

Not only TVs, but accompanying gaming systems, DVD and Blu-ray players are the norm, in addition to laptops and cell phones with seemingly countless applications.

Why go outside when you have everything you like to do inside?

I call this symptom technolazia, or technology-inspired laziness. That kind of laziness has interrupted what used to be the normal cycle of life.

Of course technology is good. But, can too much of a good thing be a bad thing?

Maybe you should ask a snowman. If you can find one.

Gabe Licht
Junior Moments