It's a damn shame that the precipitation that punished NYC yesterday is of the slushy, truly misery-inducing variety — because somehow last week's underwhelming dusting somehow warrants a city-wide snow day but we find ourselves trudging through a city covered in slick, gray nastiness.
Still, we can't help but dream of a proper winter wonderland (looks like Chicago and Boston saw more of the white stuff) and the recreational opportunities that snow brings: sledding, playing beer pong in an empty street, or building a snow fort. If you chose the latter, then you are a brave soul. It is not easy to make a good fort, especially one that will be big enough for any substantial activities.
Maybe you aren't old enough for the kind of adult fun pictured above — or (more likely) you are too old for it. Either way, the time-honored fort-building techniques developed in driveways over the last millions of years have produced ingenious and not-so-ingenious ways of making snow-forts. But with a little patience and a few buddies, you will get it figured out in no time.
Winter is still in full swing, so here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks for making an awesome snow fort — for when the next hundred-year blizzard inevitably rolls around.
1. Choose your location wisely. Make sure it is somewhere that won;t need to be knocked down anytime soon. But also be careful to leave snow on the grass, as the snow protects it from freezing temperatures and people's boots. Avoid areas with cars, as the carbon monoxide can accidentally fill your fort.
2. Don't use fresh snow. Slightly aged snow has had a chance to settle and probably melt a little bit, making it more concrete-like than freshly fallen snow. Also, don't be afraid to use non-snow structural elements, like poles, sticks, tubes, plywood, nets, shovels, etc.
3. Make your mound big enough to walk — or at least sit — in. It will be worth it.
4. If you choose the wall method rather than the digging method, use molds for bricks and slush for mortar. If it is below freezing, this mixture will turn to ice and make a very strong bond. Just use some rubber gloves so you don't get frost-bite.
5. Color the snow and add lights and texture. Add food coloring to ice bricks, or use a spray bottle with diluted food coloring to spray down your igloo (but don't eat the yellow part, unless you know where it came from). For lights, you can use low-power LEDs, or put Christmas lights in your ice blocks (be careful with this one). For texture, use a stick or a rake. You can also try making patterns with anything that will imprint into the snow. These add architectural qualities to your fort, rather than rendering it a stark white blob (though that sometimes passes for architecture these days too — zing!).
6. Don't stop at a wall or a mound. Add features like tunnels, chairs, shelves, towers, windows, flags, and decoration.
7. Be safe. Always dig with a friend, so that if something collapses, they can help you or call for help.
All images via thechive.com