Posted by: chlost | January 23, 2011

The cold can do amazing things to your brain

It has been very cold here this winter. This is what I saw outside my window a few mornings ago at approximately 8:00 am:

Winter Morning

Yes, it was -18F. The kind of cold that makes your breath freeze. Even hardy Minnesotans may resort to the use of hats and gloves. Most of us don’t dress in such a crazy fashion until it gets to -10F or below. But there are those who will wait until -15 before going to that length.

We see winters of 4-5 months. This year, there has been snow on the ground since early December.  It is likely that we will not see grass until approximately May. Then we will deal with mud and possible flooding.

It is a wonderful place to live.

When there is that much time of the year with not much to do, we citizens of the northland have to find methods to pass the time that others may find a bit unusual. But don’t judge us until you have lived through a winter with us.

As Exhibit A, I present to you my neighbor’s winter project.  This is the third winter that he has done this, and he has made it to the metro newspapers and television news stations.


Ice project, December

Ice project January 4, 2011

Ice Project, mid January

Ice project January 18, 2011

View from the other side of the river, January 9.2011


This guy is a bit eccentric, I will admit.  But, you will notice that it is keeping him busy.  There are now 4 stories of ice. It is taller than his house. He has a computer which controls the spray of water from a sprinkler which is at least 20 feet tall right now. He has geothermal heat which normally discharges the water after heating his home. He uses that water to spray onto a frame that he has built, and which then forms the ice as the water freezes over the frame. There are spotlights on it at night.  The ice is blue with the minerals of the underground water. Right now, he has extended his frame to start a structure to the front of this wall.  I am not sure what will be the final form, but it may be that he is trying to build an ice building.  The St. Paul Winter Carnival has had ice castles in the past, but those were built with blocks of ice. This is just water which is freezing over a homemade frame.  The past three years, it has taken until the end of May to melt.

It makes the winter go by a little more quickly.

Don’t judge.



  1. And over here on the south coast of England, we get in a panic when it is -1 for a couple of days….I salute you and your neighbour

    • Thanks-it is challenging. I am glad you stopped by.

  2. If life hands you lemons, you make lemonade! That’s obviously what your neighbor has done. I actually think it’s fun.

    • Lemon freeze?

  3. Wow – that ice sculpture project is breathtaking. I’ve popped over here from Secret Agent Woman’s blog. Glad I got a chance to see such an amazing piece of temporary art.

    • Well, I am glad that you came by. It is definitely temporary. It is impressive and creative. I will admit that I hadn’t thought of it as an art piece.

  4. That is really cool-no pun intended;-)

    • Yeah, I like it, too.

  5. I admire his ingenuity and dedication. Clever fellow that has found a way to beat the winter blaas. Kudos.

  6. See, if my thermometer read that, I would return it back to the store complaining the damn thing’s broken.

    • If only that were the case!

  7. It’s visually impressive, indeed, but I’m totally a curmudgeon about unnecessary water use, so color me not as impressed as I could be.

    But, er, uh, on a positive note (because aren’t comments always supposed to be peppy and upbeat?): it’s so cold that if a dog pees, the urine freezes midstream. So if you throw a dog in the air while it’s peeing, wouldn’t THAT be a show?

    • The water would be going out of the house anyway, but this is a use for it before it goes back into the ground. And, yes, the dog’s pee freezes fast in this weather, poor thing.

  8. Eccentric? In my mind, he is an artist, using the cold to warm everyone who see’s his work. Thank you for posting this amazing sight.

    • I’m beginning to see the art that everyone else seems to see.

  9. I like this a lot. Delightful.

    • Glad you liked it.

  10. My only judgment is that I think it is awesome! What a fun way to get some entertainment in the winter. I still can’t get over the -18 degrees. We thought we were going to freeze to death when the temps dropped below freezing (around 30 degrees) several weeks ago. Yikes!

    • I believe he is totally entertained by it. As neighbors, we just shake our heads. Really, there’s not much difference between 0 and -20-it all feels horribly cold. We do get used to it a bit, like those in the south get acclimated to 95F and 98% humidity in the summer.

  11. Wow! That is so cool! I was having a heck of a time trying to figure out what he was doing. You will have to post a pic when he is done. No grass till May? Gah! That would suck! The snow does look beautiful though…

  12. How remarkably creative. There is a hotel in Sweden or Norway (I forget which) that is built every every year entirely out of ice. People actually book rooms and stay there.

    • Perhaps he will start to make money from this.

  13. […] drives a person to do something like this? I blogged about his project two years ago-if you check that you can compare it to this […]

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