by Jim Boyle


An Elk River woman braved the cold while on winter break from her job as a preschool teacher at Zimmerman Elementary School, and now she has a place to go in her backyard for a reprieve from elements when the temperature drops and the wind kicks up.

Tawnya Heinsohn spent about three hours a day for five days building an igloo in the backyard at her home on Main Street. The more she worked on the project, the colder it got.

By the last day of work on New Year’s Day, single-digit temperatures gave her pause. The cold was biting at her fingers and toes.

She wanted to quit. Her husband, Brian Heinsohn, even gave her permission to quit, telling her what she had done would still be really cool.

She persevered. She needed an extra set of hands in the harshest conditions to complete the hardest part — the roof. She enlisted Brian and together they continued to prod along, one 5-gallon bucket of water from the kitchen sink at a time.

Tawnya says she used 60 pans from Costco, food coloring, lots of gloves, and a 5-gallon pail from Home Depot to haul the water outside for the igloo.

Her children helped fill some buckets along the way but Tawnya did most of the heavy lifting throughout. She was looking for something to do other than running errands, shopping or cleaning.

She decided on a whim to make the igloo, not really knowing what she was getting herself into — or how cool it would turn out in the end. She admits it turned out awesome. The igloo is big enough for the Heinsohns to stand in and sit at a table with decorative light as its centerpiece.

“Sometimes the best things you do in life are done on a whim,” she said.

She had a great story for her kids when she returned to school on Jan. 3. She said she learned the importance of staying committed and that a hose running from the sink outside would have been invaluable.

The educator says it was her first igloo and probably her last. She plans to experiment with a candle to see how warm she can make the inside of the igloo.

“I heard you can warm the air (inside) by 40 degrees,” she said.

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