A couple of Christmases ago, I was in upstate New York with family and friends and it snowed like two feet. We took my kid outside to play and we built a snow man and a snow fort. My in-laws’ best friends are a couple named Roberta and Viki. Roberta is an art historian. Viki is a museum director. They both have strong opinions and they joined us outside, where Viki found a patch of deep powder and let herself fall backwards into it to make a snow angel. She did the jumping-jacks move like you’re supposed to do and got up to admire her work. “There!” she said. “What do you think?”
We all applauded her. But then then, hesitatingly, Roberta noted a problem.
“Hmm,” she tilted her head and looked at the print Viki had left in the snow. “I don’ think you were doing it right.”
“Excuse me?!” said Viki, mock-enraged. (And maybe a little bit honestly enraged, too.) “Are you actually critiquing my snow angel technique?”
“Well…” We were all laughing by now, and Roberta, too. But she defended her position. “You raised your arms too high above your head, you’re only supposed to go up so far. Your hands aren’t supposed to meet.”
Sure enough, Viki had brought her arms all the way up, executed full jumping jacks, instead of stopping at shoulder height.
“Well, that’s how I learned to do it! Those are the wings!”
“Yes, but you can’t see the head, or, really the wings, either, because it’s just a big bell shape atop the torso.”
An argument ensued, one that drew in a wide array of spectator commentary and continued inside, over lunch, for a long time. It is one of my favorite things that has ever happened.
With eternal apologies to Viki, I have to agree with Roberta’s complaint. The head of a snow angel should be visible, with the wings extending as two distinct isosceles triangles. The decision to voice such an opinion after one’s partner has just displayed a work of public art is another matter. And one which I leave to the vagaries of individual couples and each specific situation.
Either way, though, I know one for sure: No human being will EVER make as beautiful a snow angel as this great horned owl did recently in Timiskaming, Ontario. LOOK AT THIS PICTURE!