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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Favorite fresh snow activity: making a labyrinth

The Midwest is getting pounded with a storm dub'd the snowmageddon or snowpocalypse of 2010.  And while most folks are kvetching about not being able to attend concerts, parties and shop, I love this opportunity to slow down by stomping a classical labyrinth in the church yard beside my house. 

(If don't know what a labyrinth is or how to use one, check http://labyrinthsociety.org/ for a good place to start. And if you're looking for a labyrinth in your neck of the woods (or desert) search the http://labyrinthlocator.com/.)

There's lots of directions on the internet about how to draw the boundaries for a labyrinth (here's my favorite:   http://www.lessons4living.com/drawing.htm) and not so many on how to create the path.  Where snow is plentiful, a path is all you need.  A few tips before you start:
  • There are two types of steps to make.  When WALKing to make a path or connecting rings, feel free to drag your feet.  Other times you will need to take care and raise your feet high to not disturb the snow as you move between rings.  I refer to this as STEPping. 
  • A labyrinth is always off-center and is, in other words, not symmetrical.   It is very close to being a mirror, but is not.  If it was exactly the same on both sides you would have unconnected parallel circles.  And not a path leading to the center.  Feel free to ruminate on why that is and it's metaphor on life.  :)
  • I tried to color code the steps in a rainbow fashion, but yellow does not show up very well and red and orange looked the same.  So the steps are not exactly in ROY G. BIV order, but enough they should be easy to remember.

  1. First steps are in BLACK:  WALK towards the center of the space where you are working.  STOP before you reach the center and take a BIG STEP.  This is your center.  STOMP a space twice as big as you.  I like to say a quick invocation of this activity before moving on.
  2. Next make 7 half rings.  These steps are in RED-ORANGE:  If your steps toward the center are pointing "north" on a compass, these half rings start and end on the east and west axis.  Take nice big steps between the rings!  If you get too close to your previous ring the path may become unclear.  It's better to err on being too wide though then you run the risk of making it bigger than the space you have.  Nice thing about snow (at least in the Midwest) is it melts or you get more snow you can practice!
  3. This step is the trickiest because of the possibility of making closed loops. Here's how to avoid that.  Go back to the center and step into the first path to the "west" (really you can pick either side, but for the purposes of this demo, I'll stick with what's happening in the drawing).  Now WALK to the second ring.  STEP INTO the third ring and WALK around the turn you just created towards the center.  First half is easy -- here's where we have to be careful about keeping the loops open.  STEP back to the center and to the second ring on the "east" axis.  WALK from the second to the third ring.  STEP INTO the fourth ring and walk around the other path to connect with the first ring.  This is the YELLOW-ORANGE turns in the diagram.
  4. GREEN paths next!  For the remaining unconnected rings (four on the "west" axis and three on the "east"), make quarter arcs starting from the ring closest to the center and moving out
  5. The BLUE turns are similarly to the orange-yellow turns in Step 3.  Take note which side has four unconnected rings and which has three.  Go to the "west" side with four rings and stand in the sixth.  WALK and connect it to the fifth.  STEP INTO the forth ring and WALK to the seventh.  Celebrate!  Half of the labyrinth is complete!  Trot over to the "east" side of the seventh ring.  WALK and connect the seventh ring to the sixth
  6. To finish off your snow labyrinth, STEP INTO the fifth ring that is not yet connected and WALK to the path you made when you started the labyrinth (PURPLE)
Your Classical labyrinth is now complete!  Congrats!

I can complete a snow labyrinth in about 10-15 minutes depending on the snow depth and heft.  My first one took much longer because I "drew" the boundaries in blue and green water, which I soon realized was unnecessary.  If you used these directions to create a snow labyrinth, please let me know!



  1. Thanks for your great directions. I am looking forward to making one in the next few days - once this deep freeze passes.

  2. And here it is. . .http://ow.ly/i/4NOD0