Want to build an igloo? – Knox County Village Soup
CAMDEN – Hans Bengtsson on Spring Street is a man of many talents.
He’s a trained engineer, an accomplished outdoorsman, an award-winning orienteer, and the kind of guy who can get a German Shepherd to carry his own food.
But what he’s known for on his street is making igloos.
Hans, who is over 80, has lived full time in Camden since 2005. He is originally from Sweden.
“That’s where my lovely accent comes from,” he said.
When asked if everyone in Sweden knew how to make snow shelters, he agreed that they did, just like they all had polar bears. There’s a dry sense of humor there.
He built 20 to 30 igloos during his career. He warns that it is cold and wet work. An igloo takes about four hours to build and requires at least two people. It involves crafting, dragging and placing up to 80 heavy snow blocks.
This year, when we saw snow storms reaching into March, the conditions were perfect and he showed a group of neighborhood kids how to get the job done. It was brought to our attention by neighbor Gretchen Kuhn, who also provided the photos.
The last igloo in the Spring Street front yard stood for about three days before melting and collapsing, he said.
Retiring to Camden worked for him because his wife, Lena, loves the sea and he loves the mountains. He works on the trails with Coastal Mountains Land Trust.
“I can handle a tough life,” he said.
He remembers spending two weeks on the trails of Swedish Lapland, walking from hut to hut. He walked about 20 kilometers a day with his dog, a German shepherd named Kerki.
Kerki was pulling a sled called a pulka. Sometimes, Hans explains, the dog would take advantage of the sun and pretend to have the sled stuck in a bush so he could sunbathe. “Until I tell him enough is enough.”
The job was only fair since the sled contained the dog’s food.
When asked what he thought of such a hike, Hans said the scenery and where a good place might be for lunch. When asked if philosophical or spiritual thoughts go into such hikes, he simply replied, “I’m an engineer, remember?”
He was recruited to come to America by a fellow engineer and worked in the Boston area first in electronics (printed circuits) and later in software.
In the world of orienteering, he is a competitor, even participating in North American championships.
While he may not agree, he brought a certain spirit and ethos to the neighborhood kids here in Camden.
Meet the Rink-Meister of Chemin Molyneaux