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Steve Eaton: Stop wrecking the snow, show some respect

Members of the Davis and Knudson families take time from sledding at Eastwood Elementary Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 to construct a giant 11 foot tall snowman.
Members of the Davis and Knudson families take time from sledding at Eastwood Elementary Monday, Feb. 21, 2011 to construct a giant 11 foot tall snowman.
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

People just wreck the snow in Utah.

I know, I know, they call it “the greatest snow on earth” and charge people to ski on it. But they don’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

In the olden days, when I lived in the state of Washington, we had a different attitude. That was back before Al Gore invented global warming and things started getting colder in Washington.

Back then snow was rare. You didn’t really need to watch the weather forecasts in Washington unless there was a possibility that snow was coming. The rule of thumb was to look at Mount Rainier. If you couldn’t see it, it was raining. If you could see the mountain, it was about to rain. But if there was snow in the forecast, that was worth paying attention to because that meant that everything would be closed and canceled.

When I was a kid, it snowed enough to make a snowman only once every two years, so snow was sacred. No one was allowed to just slog around in the rare stuff and wreck it. We divided the lawn into sections and harvested it, rolling up the heavy, wet snow one row at a time so that we could make a giant green snowman. (When you rolled up the snow, a lot of grass would come with it.)

Each year, my dad would fashion one of his sculptures of a wise man sitting in a giant chair, like President Abraham Lincoln with green hair everywhere. It was a cool sculpture because it didn’t have a traditional snowman shape; as it melted, it was unclear what it was supposed to be. Some people assumed it was a memorial to people who had been trapped inside nuclear reactors, like Spock and Captain Kirk, or perhaps a very graphic reminder that electric chairs are bad for you.

We have a bus stop next to our house where kids go to wait, scream and chase each other in circles. Our house is on a busy road, and it is as if the NSA designed the lot because no matter when we go outside, we can be seen by everyone. There are no fences to hide behind. No privacy.

That is apparently an open invitation to the neighborhood. The kids don’t just disturb the snow on the bus stop corner; they run wild around the house, screaming as if the Beatles live here. They just tromp and stomp and scream and then slog a bit, wrecking every inch of the pristine white stuff.

It takes so much self-discipline for me to keep myself from hitching my pants up over my navel and going out and shouting at those darn kids to “Get off my snow!” I don’t do that because most people in my neighborhood just would not understand such a Washington attitude.

I had to stop writing this column just now because someone with an earthquake-causing, monster truck/snow plow decided to make a wall of sludge to block the end of our driveway, and my wife just phoned me and told me she’d like to come home someday. Do you know what sludge is? Sludge is snow that has been so disrespected that it has gone bad. Like neglected milk gone beyond its expiration date, sludge is good for nothing.

There’s no need for sludge at Christmas! If everyone would just stay put, we’d be fine. We could just cancel stuff until global warming melts it in June. In the meantime, have some hot chocolate and don’t mess up your snow. Just be quiet and enjoy it.

If you really have to scream and mess up the snow, you might as well come over to my house. My snow is already wrecked. I probably won’t yell at you, but don’t be surprised if tomorrow there is a giant green-haired snowman on my front lawn that looks just like you in an electric chair.

That may be your penalty for being a snow-wrecker. You know better now.

Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at