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Of course, I would be staying in dry-as-a-bone Denver, Colorado, as one of the biggest snow storms in recent years blankets Duluth in deep snow. I can see it on the mountains in the far distance from my window but I can’t do anything about it.
Such is my Christmas in Colorado. I was sent a video of my wild, half-naked grandsons jumping from their deck onto a snowy backyard to make snow angels but it’s not the same as being home and and up to my knees in a heart attack.
And from the reports of “thunder snow,” my back is rejoicing.
I like to go into Christmas with a snow sculpture. I complained about this in last week’s column but there haven’t been too many years that I have disappointed Duluthians returning home for the holidays hoping to see what the old coot on 21st Ave has done this year.
They will be disappointed this year unless I get back before New Year’s and get snow-warming sun.
People often ask me what I plan to sculpt. Many winters I have no idea what to make but even when I do know I keep it to myself. I simply reply that it will be white.
In recent years this has not always been true. I’ve twice resorted to Cheeto orange for my least favorite Xmas nightmare.
While the particular idea may not be set in stone I often have something on my mind or some statement to make.
Only new Duluthians are clueless about my political inclinations. They go back to 1976 when I ran for the legislature as a liberal Republican. Ten years later in 1986 I made a snow bunny at our West End home.
After moving to our new home my first grade daughter asked me to make her a snow dinosaur. I thought a snow sculpture might be be a nice appetizer for a possible school board campaign. I had just been fired (and rightfully so) for incompetence in the classroom.
While this ambition made no sense to anyone else under these circumstances they made perfect sense to me. A person learns from their mistakes, making me one of the smartest people in the world.
The dinosaur was apolitical but it did draw a television news crew, which filmed my daughter crawling over the dinosaur.
Twelve months later I sculpted my first political message. In the first 12 months at our new home there had been 21 accidents on our corner. The intersection only had a stop sign at a location where traffic counters had tallied 20,000 daily vehicle crossings.
I got so used to calling 911 that I soon learned their first question was whether anyone was hurt.
The following fall I built an overturned car with a driver crawling out by a stop sign draped over his hood.
A couple years later we got a stop light. Accidents slowed down but they never ended. The son of a former boss knocked over the handrail by our front steps and a little later a DTA bus drove over our curb and stopped at the same spot.
My first political sculpture was made after I lost my first school board race. I sculpted Old Central, then the school district’s administrative offices, with King Kong hanging on the clock tower fist upraised. My Mother gave me a forlorn paperweight gorilla to honor my art.
After a second defeat for the board in 1991, the year of the infamous Halloween Blizzard, I decided the paperweight, now named “Phil,” perfectly represented how I felt. I used the 36 inches of blizzard snow to replicate the mopey gorilla which towered 16 feet over the sidewalk.
Phil’s image ended up being broadcast on hundreds of weather forecaster’s green screens around the nation. Phil prompted a lot of pictures, including a van full of Mormon missionaries. Ten of them piled out of their van and handed me their 10 Kodak Instamatics, which I hung over my neck like Mark Spitz’s gold medals to take their pictures. They gave me a Book of Mormon in thanks.
I would lose a third campaign before finally getting elected in my 4th campaign.
The next year I sculpted newly elected President Bill Clinton playing his saxophone. That sculpture got on front pages of newspapers all over the U.S. I was still a Republican in ’92 but I was wishing our new President well for America’s sake.
I continue to shamelessly use snow for political reasons, although they have become more dire as my innocent faith in America has been tested.
Most recently I gave a primary challenge to a zipper-lipped Republican Congressman for the third time. I lost, but having previously lost a string of three races for the school board only to make the fourth time the charm, I’m keeping my options open.
Before I lost the Republican primary, but too late to market them, I had 100 card decks printed with 52 of my snow sculptures on them. Maybe they could turn the trick for a fourth race. And they aren’t NFTs!
You can play a game of solitaire with them. I wouldn’t charge $99 for them like a certain Cheeto-colored huckster.
Welty also stuffs his stockings at lincolndemocrat.com.