Snowmen and Second Chances

So earlier this month, I started to catch up on certain things in my life. I turned in a story that’s three months late. I caught up on reading my backlog of e-mail (well… most of it). I got back in touch with people I’ve been meaning to e-mail for months.

And at the beginning of the month, spring started to arrive here in Wisconsin.

You would think this would be a cheerful thing for me. Birds singing. Flowers budding. All that Disney shit.

But you’d be wrong about that.

For one thing, you’re thinking of the wrong sort of spring. In Wisconsin, spring really just means the snow melts. Everything is brown and grey and muddy. It rains. The trees stretch their bare, black branches into the slate-grey sky like they’re auditioning for a part in a particularly emo T.S. Elliot poem.

Yeah, eventually things green up. It gets warm. Trees bud. But that’s in May. That’s *late* spring. Early spring is depressing as fuck.

The other reason spring isn’t very cheerful for me is that in my head, spring isn’t a beginning time. Spring is an ending time for me. Maybe it’s because for 20+ years of my life, I lived by the school year, rather than the calendar year. And May (Which again, is spring in Wisconsin) is the end of the school year.

Whatever the reason, spring is a melancholy time for me. I don’t think, “Yay! A new year is starting!”

No. I think, “I was so busy this winter that I didn’t take time to make a single snow angel. I didn’t build a snow fort like I wanted to with Oot. I didn’t even make a snowman with him. I don’t think I even made a snowball this year.”

It’s a depressing thought.

Luckily for me, Stevens Point got about three inches of snow last week. Then last night, on Saturday, we got about four more. Good wet packing snow.

It’s nice to get a second chance. Especially when you don’t deserve it. To ignore such a gift would be reckless to the point of arrogance.

So today I took a couple hours and focused on the important things.

Best crop

(Click to Embiggen.)

Those of you who live in the uncivilized backwaters of the world might not know what Sarah is doing back there. But anyone here in Wisconsin can tell by the tracks in the snow….

We’re making snowmen. Snowpersons, rather. A whole snow family.

Snow family

The one in the middle is Oot, pretending to be a snowchild with his corncob pipe. Or, as he refers to it, his smoker.

If you have trouble with snowman gender identity, let me clarify by pointing out that the one on the right is me, while the one on the left is Sarah. You can tell because the one on the left is more cheerful, and looks better in her hat. While the one on the right is more full of shit.

And no, I’m not speaking figuratively. I’m talking about this:

full view

Can’t see it? Let me get you closer….

Close up of deer

There’s a herd of deer that regularly hang out in our backyard. This is one of the many nice things about living in central Wisconsin. Some deer poop in your snowman is a small price to pay. It’s as inoffensive as rabbit poop. The two are virtually indistinguishable, truth be told.

The other way you can tell the difference between snowme and snowsarah is that snowme has an icicle beard….

icebeard and pat

Next time, I think I’ll go for the pine beard, as the icicle one is hard to see.

If you can’t tell which one is the real me, it’s the one on the right. I have better posture than snowme, and I’m more full of shit. (Figuratively.)

Also, for those of you who are curious, that is my favorite coat. (Well… I only have two, but it’s still my favorite.) I’ve had it for over twenty years. That’s why it looks a little the worse for wear….

Anyway, to wrap things up, here’s our whole snow family:


And with that I will leave you.

May you all have a relatively pain-free tax day. May you all have ample opportunity to make snowmen, and more second chances than you deserve.


This entry was posted in day in the life, my beard, Oot, Sarah, small adventures. By Pat52 Responses


  1. Posted April 15, 2013 at 5:39 AM | Permalink

    As a side note, I don’t know if I’ve ever typed the word “icicle” before.

    When I tried to put it in this blog, I fucked it up so badly that spellcheck pretty much threw up its hands and said, “Fuck if I know, dude. Are you trying to spell pickle or something?”

    • Dirty_Jo
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

      You have no idea how heartening it is to know even a professional writer makes spellcheck cry from time to time.

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

        ALL the time. Spelling is not my forte.

        By which I mean to say that it is not a little fort in which I live.

        • Blarghedy
          Posted April 16, 2013 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

          Dude I would totally live in a spelling fort.

  2. Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:16 AM | Permalink

    Hah! You have a Harry Dresden coat. This is fine by me. Probably not the moral lesson I should be taking from this post, but still fine.

  3. Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:18 AM | Permalink

    Glad to hear that you got the chance to make a snowman (or snow family) after all. However, it’s been a cold and wintery year so far, which is why I was glad that there is no more snow and we had a summer-like Sunday for a change.
    Still, good to see you getting something good (family activity) out of what I consider bad weather :)

  4. vaya
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 6:51 AM | Permalink

    I think Western Australia should get in on this snow business.

  5. Trevor
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:36 AM | Permalink

    While I admire your commitment to winter and all it stands for Pat, I must disagree with you on the idea of extra snow being “lucky.” There has been more than enough snow this winter. Personally I feel April is quite late enough for it to stop.

  6. FarmerMonkey
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

    You have a beautiful family. I mean the organic one, not the ice and deer shit one, but that’s a beautiful surrogate in its own way.

    My older son is about Oot’s age, but tragically, he got less enjoyment out of building our snowman than he got out of my outrage at his maiming said snowman. Snowman required several arm and head transplants (presumably medically possible due to his low body temperature) before he was presentable for his photo op. I managed to convince my boy to hug Snowman for a wildly unrepresentative photo of their brief time together.

    • Corinne
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

      absolutely real!

  7. kyfty
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

    For future snowmen, cedar branches make great hair/beards :)

  8. Lollypopkin
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Permalink

    I’m glad your family and you got your second chance at snow people making. Personally I’ve never made a snow person even though I’ve had the opportunity now that I live in the midwestern section of the United States. I blame my lack of partaking in snowy activities because as a southern Arizonan native (Tucson) I personally think snow and cold is some form of evil weather torture so I tend to hid when there is snow. I hope you enjoy your “evil snow” though.

  9. Corinne
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing this!

  10. auntiepepper
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    One of the stars I steered by as a parent was this quote: “The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow. The rainbow won’t wait while you do the work.” (Patricia Clafford). Glad that you, Sarah and Oot didn’t make the rainbow wait any longer. Here’s another great thought: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Enjoy every minute you can.

    • Constance
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

      That’s a beautiful quote and good words to live by. These days will never come again; they should be embraced and cherished.

  11. Redwulf
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    Again, not to instigate the crossing of worlds or anything… but I look at you in that coat and think Belgarath the Sorcerer… Awesome as all get out, but liked wearing a tatty-ass get-up because it was super comfortable, and the hell if he gave a damn that he looked more than slightly like a vagrant. :-)

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

      Yah, he just needs some mismatched boots and a tankard of ale! LOL

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

      Heh. I look more than *slightly* like a vagrant.

      Sometimes I’m driving around and I see someone walking. Some guy that looks kinda rough. I find myself thinking, “I hope he has somewhere warm to sleep tonight…”

      Then I realize that he is probably better dressed and groomed than me.

      Books and covers. We all do it, even when we know better.

  12. Maureen
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    So happy you got to have this moment. Plus, it really makes it feel like the universe is on your side. I hope the rest of the year brings you and your family other, wonderful, surprise gifts that you didn’t think you were going to get =)

  13. Pale Fire
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    We have pretty much the same weather here in St.Petersburg, Russia, so I absolutely share your attitude to spring.

  14. mandabanda
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    I’m so very glad that you enjoyed our late snow. I was cursing it something fierce, and now I feel bad because you definitely needed the snow to get that day with Oot. But now that you’ve had it, the snow can quit! I want to wear flip flops, already!

  15. Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    You guys are making snow men, while my tomato plants are literally wilting from heat and all my strawberries have turned red. LOL.
    I’m crossing my fingers my Loquats will be ready next week.
    (Which if you don’t know is actually the best fruit ever, I have literally convinced every child in my neighborhood I own a candy tree….)

    I’ve never made a snowman in my life and I’m 25, I’ve actually only seen snow (in person) 3 times…so this was actually an interesting blog to read….

    Actually it made me think how weather and location, even in the USA can really impact our culture, my parents probably never felt bad that we never made a snowman together, but we made many epic sand castles and this was a requirement of every summer.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

      oh good god, I’m 26 not 25


      Still getting used to that I guess –

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

        Heh. I do that too. I’m usually off by at least a year in one direction or another.

      • Posted April 15, 2013 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

        For Sure, seems like the older I get the faster my birthday shows up and the sooner I forget it ever happened. LOL

  16. lauraS
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    Mr Rothfuss,
    Perhaps, now that you are a successful author, you should consider a spring home here in sunny North-bay CA. In Spring the grass turns verdant green. The plum, cherry, apple and other fruiting trees burst with pink and white blossoms that bring to mind candied popcorn. The crisp spring mornings are filled with the sound of birds courting their potential co-parents.
    You would, however, need to winter in Wisconsin if you want to make snow persons because there is not ever even one flake of “packable” snow here.

  17. Posted April 15, 2013 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    That coat is amazing.

    you mentioned catching up on emails. I sent you an odd one last week regarding Hugh Howey and his blog post woes. He said mean stuff, kind of had to apologize, handled it not-gracefully… I felt bad for Hugh and my first thought (well, after trying to write something supportive to Hugh and failing to come up with anything brilliant) was, “Rothfuss will know what to say!” If you have no idea what I’m talking about and have no interest in finding out, it’s all good, but I’m pretty sure Scalzi’s recent post about the art of apologizing is a direct response to Howey’s gaffe. Well, it seems like it might be, anyway.

  18. Posted April 15, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Oot looks like he’s well on his way to becoming Finn from Adventure Time. He just needs a golden sword, a white hat, and an amorphous yellow dog.

  19. Robo
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    Dude, rockin’ the denim trench coat. Now, that’s style! All you need is a couple six guns under that thing and you’re ready to appear in the next Firefly sequel as Arctus Floe, King of ice planet, Frigidigous.

    • Posted April 15, 2013 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

      And the winner of Best Comment of the Day is….

      • Posted April 21, 2013 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

        Oh how, I would love to see Nate illustrate this image…

    • craazymumma
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:24 PM | Permalink

      ooo LIKE

  20. Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    Let’s since a song of winter’s end
    Of life and love and spring!
    As the weather, ever Pat’s friend
    Gives Oot one last snow fling.

    So thank you, sir. I hope you know
    Your blog is always dope,
    And through the spring and turds and snow
    We’re glad you live in hope.

  21. Sedulo
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    I agree with Spring being kind of a bummer time likely due to my ingrained academic calendar. I tend to think the New Year/exciting beginnings time is in Autumn and I am happiest then.

  22. craazymumma
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    we’re coming into autumn, cant wait for winter, and snow, where i shall teach my kids the Calvin & Hobbes snowmen. or sharks. they’ll love it.

    and we’re in melbourne. oz. no one knows who calvin and hobbes are. too sad.

  23. JFSOCC
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:37 PM | Permalink

    Don’t focus on what you missed out on, but on what you got to do. Be satisfied with it. As someone who has struggled with depression on and off for most of his life, I can tell you it works wonders to start looking at things as an optimist. You’ll feel better, and that spirals upwards.

    (also, regular exercise and a good sleeping rhythm is essential to stave off depression)

    Anyway, unasked for advice, very annoying. I try.

  24. gfs
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

    While you people who live in Winsconsin have snow even during early Spring, here in my city in Brazil we have hot weather the whole year. Autumn is hot, Winter (I’m not kidding!) is hot, and Spring is hot. And Summer, well… Summer is hotter.
    However, today the morning awoke a little less hot than usual. It was the first time I wore a jacket in this year. And the temperature is only 24ºC (for those of you who use Fahrenheit temperature scale, 24ºC = 75ºF). Most probably, this will be the lowest temperature until June arrives (again, for those who live above the Equator: here in the Southern hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to yours).
    Like IvoryDoom above, I’ve never made a snowman. Actually, I’ve never seen snow. It’s a little bit odd to think how common those things are to you people. And it is even odder to think that some people are striving for warmer days. Yeah, the world is a weird place indeed…

    • Posted April 16, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Permalink

      LOL, don’t you kinda wanna make one now though? I could maybe go for a snow angel at the very least.

      I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a snow angel in real life….

      I seriously thought that was just something they did on Charlie Brown til approximately 10 years ago. D’oh!

  25. grinachu
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 3:03 AM | Permalink

    Just be careful, Pat, living in close proximity to deer can give you Lyme’s disease. I had a close family member who thought deer in her backyard was cute etc. There are health risks associated with the casual handling of deer poop that I don’t know you want to be oblivious about.

  26. WishfulBeard
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    You make me think that that’s what Harry Dresden would look like in sixty years (not a pot-shot at your age; wizards age slower than muggles) if he was living on the streets with that jean duster and unkempt beard.

    • WishfulBeard
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

      Wait, is it a faux pas to mix J.K. Rowling with Jim Butcher like that?

  27. Nicham
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    I live in Portland, OR. Spring pretty much sucks monkey balls here too. We never even saw snow this year, just months and months of wet grey. And I want your coat in the worst way.

  28. faroreforelorn
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 1:02 PM | Permalink

    Though Wisconsin weather is fickle at best, I find its uniqueness charming. In what other state can you enjoy all four seasons in a single week?

    Side note: I’m from Wausau, and currently working in Madison. And I’m glad I can support such an outstanding local author! I’d love to meet you sometime – your books have quickly become a favorite of mine.

    • rockorye
      Posted April 16, 2013 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

      Here in Rhinelander, WI things are looking pretty grim weather wise. Alas, my son doesn’t possess the ambulatory coordination to build snowmen. Next year, I think. Maybe I’ll appreciate this weather more then. My gut says no.

      Side side note: Agreed that supporting a local author with scope beyond our locale is super awesome.

  29. Sherp
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 7:43 PM | Permalink

    We had a big snowstorm here in Denver too. Your post inspired me to go out and build a snowman. :-)

  30. maine character
    Posted April 16, 2013 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    I was clicking on that coat to see it better even before I saw it was your favorite.

    Plus, it looks extra cool with that glove behind you looking like a raven on your shoulder.

  31. Roy
    Posted April 17, 2013 at 8:03 AM | Permalink

    Is that a Carhartt? Mine is only about 10 years old, but yours looks like I expect mine would in another ten years or so.

  32. Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

    This is the moment I feel sad to live in Brazil. I can never make a snowman. NEVER.

  33. Daniel Goldberg
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    Well Pat, not sure what the weathers like in Stevens Point, but here in St. Paul we are getting our third chance at winter . . . or is this the fourth?

    I tried to make a snowman after I got home at 130am, but the snow wouldn’t clump. Another chance to make my neighbors think I’m crazy thwarted. Bummer.

  34. Lemmons998
    Posted April 19, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Permalink

    attempting to embed a picture here….

    Here’s a picture of the last snowperson my best friend and I made, about 7 years ago….

  35. baadwolf
    Posted April 26, 2013 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    i have that exact same coat
    i bought it five years ago because i loved dresden even though his is leather.

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