What is it about snow globes that so fascinates us? Is it the way they swirl and sparkle under their sky of glass, so full of motion, and yet serene and unchanging? Is it the memories, a moment, preserved under glass, to be put on a shelf, and savored for years to come?
There is a problem with snow globes, as John Foster Kane reminded us in "Citizen Kane." These fragile little worlds can shatter, breaking hearts when they do.
Broken globes find their way to Dick Heibel from, all across the actual globe. He receives touching letters from grateful customers.
"When you get one of those, you take extra care, because it meant so much," he told Sunday Morning correspondent Anthony Mason.
In his basement workshop in Northfield, Minn. with hot glue, fresh water, and plenty of sparkly, swirling stuff, Heibel does what it takes to make these bright little worlds whole again.
"It's still kind of magical to tip 'em and watch that snow drift down and see that serene scene inside," Heibel said.
It's the magic that keeps him at it, certainly not the money.
"That's why there's no one doing it," he said. "It's not a money making proposition, too much time involved."
Heibel charges anywhere from $15 to $45 to repair, repaint, reseal and restore the globes — a service that is priceless. He says the letters he gets are his reward.
"Bless you, dear Mr. Heibel," he read from a letter. "this will truly make my Christmas, knowing that he will be back in is element of snow and glitter with his black hat in place. The smallest things in life are the essence of what matters."
The small things. No buttons, or batteries, or interactive screens. Just snowg lobes: beautiful, serene and precious. A little world, sparkling under glass.
Contact Dick Heibel at 507-645-4571.
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