A myth has come to reality at the end of Vaughan Street.
As a matter of mental and artistic therapy, Vanessa Hildreth puts her energy and creative focus into sculpting with the most readily available medium in the city: snow.
“I used to be a smoker, now I’m a vaper and don’t do it inside the house, and I have ADD so I can’t sit down,” she said. “So I’ve got to do something. And I wondered if I could. Every year it gets better and better.”
It’s been going on for years, and this winter’s creation is the legendary Okanagan Lake water creature, slithering out of the snow. It is lit up at night, with eyes that glow. Hildreth said she achieved the body arches by starting with a strong base of snow, building it upwards, then gently forming it into a curvature at the top. She had to overcome several collapses when the apexes of the humps wouldn’t always hold firm as she was packing the snow into place, but eventually she got each one to lock into place, so then it was a matter of scrunching the scale effects into the skin, forming the facial features, and other details.
The recent warm weather has been a splash of cold water on the stately figure standing guard over the street.
“One kid from the neighbourhood was here yesterday crying, because the ‘Snogopogo was dying’ because his face was half melted,” Hildreth said. “So I wanted to do something about it. I put a lot of work again into rebuilding his face. I have to put his fins back on and some more scales. I’ve been pulling roof snow off because all this out here is so filthy.”
She’s done a giant turtle, an ogre coming out of the ground, but the Ogopogo “just kind of shows well” in her mind, so she gave herself that challenge and her hands matched up with imagination.