merry christmas 3 | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

merry christmas 4 | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk

I know. Is that brilliant, or what?

Seriously. The kids and I were on our way home yesterday afternoon when we spotted this most-amazing use of last week’s 17″ snowstorm. Obviously, I had to turn the car around. In case you haven’t heard, I like finding things on the side of the road.

R-girl was a little iffy about shooting pictures of a stranger’s yard. I, however, wasn’t (because if you’re going to create something that cool on a semi-busy road, I’m guessing you might want folks to enjoy it) so I stepped out and started snapping. Just then a car pulled up, a man got out, and I heard: “Hey, what’s with the camera?”

I turned around. “Oh my gosh! Is this your house?!”

He nodded.

Weird. For some reason I had pictured someone completely different behind this work of art. Someone about 40 years younger and possibly with a crew of enthusiastic little minions. Or children. I wasn’t convinced this snow was actually his but I figured we could share the love anyway: “It’s so amazing. I love it!”

He smiled.

“Can I please take some pictures?”

“Of course you can,” laughed the sweet, grandfatherly fellow—who proceeded to fill in the details of his snowy creation:
– He has made his living (almost a living, he says) as a sculptor.
– This year they couldn’t afford to send Christmas cards so he figured, since the snow and the labor are free, he’d do this instead.
– He created this exact same message out on the farm 70 years ago.
– There are four types of snow. This was the perfect one for sculpting.

Did I mention that he was adorable, with a facetious grin and a continual twinkle of humor?

I asked his name and he said, “I’m the one and only Bill Olson.”*

sculptor | the both and | shorts and longs

You might have to live in Minnesota to catch the irony.

When I got home, I couldn’t resist researching this mysterious sculptor a bit. And, wow.

Those are just a few of the pieces that he has sculpted over the years.

The thing that amazes me most about sculptors is their vision. That ability to see something beautiful where everyone else sees just a block of stone or a chunk of clay, and to firmly hold the big picture in their minds even while they are focused on one small, isolated detail.

I can only occasionally—and very clumsily—do that, and usually it has something to do with trying to help shape my children’s hearts.

Never a pile of snow.

merry christmas | the both and | shorts and longs | julie rybarczyk.jpg
What a wonderful gift to share with all of us this Christmas, wouldn’t you say?

Merry Christmas, to one of my most charming roadside finds ever. And to all of you!


*That’s not his real name—but it’s in the same genre. You know, Bob Larson, Tom Peterson, John Johnson… Yes, “Bill” gave me permission to feature him here on the blog, but I’m pretty sure he has no clue what a blog is, and I’m feeling a little protective of him. Of course, if you are wanting to hire a great sculptor, let me know and I’ll hook you up!

by julie rybarczyk


  • Janis Eastlund

    Heard he’s working on a new sculpture! (His daughter here.)

    January 25, 2011 - 10:55 pm
  • Julie

    Lorie – Tell him I would love that!!

  • Lorie

    Hi there. This is the sculptor’s granddaughter here. Although he’s not a blogger, he’s got friends that show him blogs once in a while. 🙂

    He says that he’s going to call you after Christmas and have you come over to see some of his other work.

    Merry Christmas and glad you enjoyed the roadside find.

  • Lora Bloomquist

    What an awesome roadside find story! When you’ve got your eyes peeled for treasures at the curb, never know who you’ll meet or what story you’ll run into! Thanks for sharing the adventure!

  • Katy

    What a cool thing…love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Kimberly

    Thanks for sharing. What a neat gift he has given to everyone who drives by.

  • Larry Shallenberger

    Very cool.

  • Kellie

    He is a gift!!!! What a talented guy! I love this. I am forwarding your blog to my friends/family so they can see how cool this is. I have never seen anything like it. The letters are so perfectly shaped. Would make a fab Christmas card – but everyone would think it was photoshopped… he is a true talent. Thanks for sharing. Made my day!

  • Marianne

    What a sweet way to honor someone who is creative just like you!

  • emily haataja

    That is amazing!!! So so fun!!! He does have a twinkle.

  • becky

    LOVE this!!

  • diane

    Where is it I wanna go see!

  • Erin



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