BALTIMORE -- By most recollections, there hadn't been a white Christmas for anyone in Baltimore in more than a decade, but there it was: a snowman sitting smack in the middle of a white front lawn and a mother and son flinging snowballs.

How did Mother Nature do it? With a little help from Jim Foster.

Foster says he had been driving day after day past mounds of ice shavings at a Baltimore ice rink. "For the last couple of months, I'd been thinking about doing something with it."

All it took was a comment by a friend, a practical nurse named Susan E. Hook, 27, and her son Todd, 9, about the lack of snow. When she arrived home from work Thursday, her lawn had been transformed.

"He's a sweetheart," Hook said. "He didn't put any on the sidewalk because I'd have to shovel it."

Foster says he hauled the ice shavings Christmas Eve. "First I just put up the snowman," said Foster, 29, the operator of a commercial cleaning business. "But that didn't look right standing there alone, so I went back for another load and did the rest of the lawn."

The National Weather Service said the last measurable Christmas snow was in 1976.