It all started with a Facebook post. My friend Amy (who we once went dog sledding with) saw that a family in Canada had made an igloo out of ice blocks. She posted it on my page and suggested I do it.
500 Cartons Freezing Outside.
Sold. I started collecting half gallon, cardboard containers. My clients dragged bags of them to classes, Stew Leonard’s in Newington gave me a ton. Friends and family collected them. I even went dumpster diving in my neighborhood on trash night in hopes of collecting enough. And then Amy saved the day. She drove 150 cartons from Fairfield, but it all came too late. It was mid-March by the time we had over 500 cartons and it was too warm outside.
The cartons spent a year in my garage and a hallway upstairs. Luckily they didn’t smell that bad. I, perhaps, was the only person hoping 2015 would be another cold, snowy winter. Got my wish. So I started filling the cartons with water and food coloring and dragging them outside. Matt helped. It took us about 10 man hours to get all 500 cartons outside. And I don’t think it got up over 25-degrees for the days they were out (some we got out Wednesday night, some Friday night), but they all had two days at under 20-degrees and nights hovering around zero.
In the beginning
So I was surprised to discover that only 150 had fully frozen. The rest were only partially frozen. This was a nuisance since we were well underway with the project by the time I opened carton 151 and realized it needed more time. A neighbor came by. She took twenty cartons at a time and put them in her freezer for 90-minutes. For most that got them frozen enough to be usable. We dug through the mass of cartons to find what we started calling frozen enough. Neighbors and friends stopped by throughout the day to help. Our biggest helper was our friend Mark, who likes any task that involves nature or is remotely related to survivor skills. The igloo would not have happened without Mark’s help and hands that seem impermeable to cold.
Matt Stacks Bricks
We tore open containers, piled ice blocks, mixed water and snow to make mortar, rebuilt one collapse and stared in awe as it came together from 8am until 5:30pm when we were nearly blocks of ice ourselves and out of frozen containers.
It’s still not quite complete. We hope to finish tonight. It looks beautiful during the day; it looks beautiful when we light it up at night. I’m in awe. I could sit and stare at it for hours. Each block is a little piece of art. Some blocks froze a solid color, others have a blob of color, and others look like a tornado of red, blue, pink or orange is spiraling through the center. It’s like magic.
Mark & Me wrapping up for the day.
I’ll post more about how we made it all happen (because I’d wish there were specific instructions when we got started), but we did learn a few lessons:
You work with the ice blocks you have, not the ice blocks you want.
Arches are as hard to make as you would think.
Snow mixed with water makes an incredible mortar. Snow alone is no good.
There is not one person who stopped by to help or added a carton last year that wasn’t a vital role in this project coming together. That’s part of the magic of it all too!
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.