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Snowman building ‘started with a hat’
Bev Kaiser says his first snowman was about as basic as you can get.
“It all started with a hat.” he chuckles.
A funky-looking knitted cap with ear flaps that just seemed a perfect topping for a snowman.
The White Rock resident threw the snowman together on a whim during a winter hiking trip, then took a picture.
During another hike, he made another one and again took a photo.
“Every time we’d hike, if the snow was good, I’d make a snowman and take a picture.”
The snowmen became more elaborate.
Kaiser got into the habit of taking a few props with him on jaunts to snow country, and he upgraded his camera.
Now, five years and dozens of snowmen later, he has posted many examples online and is thinking about doing some kind of a book.
Among them is a Viking snowman complete with a horned helmet and an axe. And a New Year’s partier with a noisemaker and fistfuls of confetti in each arm. There is an obviously female “Alpine girl” on a flower-covered hillside with no other sign of snow.
Kaiser likes to build his creations in unusual locations, usually out-of-the-way sites near mountain tops and backwood streams. He has also built them on local shorelines, photographing one red-eyed (Coca-Cola bottle caps) and unhappy-looking character waving its stick arms and brilliant pink mittens in front of a catamaran.
He adjusts his technique according to the weather conditions and the type of snow he encounters, whether it can be rolled into balls or has to be packed together.
One photo shows him peering over the top of a Jabba-The-Hut sized snowman made by impressing eyes, nose and mouth on a huge mound of snow covering a tree.
Often, he says, it’s the simple design that works best.
He was unhappy with a carefully planned St.Patrick’s Day snowman featuring green shamrock shapes, calling it “over-decorated.”
One of his personal favourites is one of his simplest, a bucolic-looking character in a straw hat built by a picturesque stream,
“He’s kind of a hick,” Kaiser says.
Kaiser has even been known to build snowmen in his own yard, including one topped by a Halloween Jack-o’-lantern pumpkin.
That snowman started life standing straight up but as temperatures rose and fell, the partial melting caused it lean to one side.
Kaiser has a picture of himself with the snowman leaning against his shoulder, the two looking like two old buddies posing for a snapshot.
He’s managed to make out-of-season snowmen, using the scrapings from a hockey arena.
Ice shavings can make a serviceable snow substitute, he says, “if you jump on it real fast.”
There doesn’t seem to be anyone else doing what he does, at least no one Kaiser could find from searching the Internet.
“You don’t see them (snowmen) in the back country, ever.”
The 59-year-old and father of two and Abbotsford teacher plans to continue making his snowmen into his retirement.
He does it simply because it’s enjoyable, he says, something that makes people smile when they come across one on a back trail in the middle of nowhere.
He’s seen people posing for their own pictures with his snowmen.
“It’s kind of a fun thing to give you a lift,” he says.
“Not enough people have fun. Maybe I’m childish enough to enjoy it.”