Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sure, pick THIS moment to die

Stupid camera. Go ahead, pick TODAY to have some kind of error that prevents you from focusing. Pick THIS day to sneer fuzzily at me through your non-moving lenses, while the snow drifts down on North Carolina, blanketing us in wintry goodness. Pick THIS day to balk like a cow at the slaughterhouse door, planting your recalcitrant stance and refusing to budge, even just the tiniest bit, so that I could capture photographic PROOF that sometime, just sometimes, it does SNOW in the South.

Today, my dear digi-cam, I hate your pixellated guts, for you have let me down. You were to be my captain-at-arms, providing the weaponry with which I was to prove to the doubting world that winter DOES occur in my part of the world. You are now demoted to buck private, dear digi-cam, until I figure out what's WRONG with you.


So, yeah. Snow.


A whole half-inch. Not even enough to go sledding. You know, if there were hills. which there aren't really, this being the Piedmont and therefore not so much with the hilly. Oh, I'm sure there are places I could go with the kids to throw ourselves down a barely snow-covered slope, but unless it's a hill on which one can slide for at least a minute, it just doesn't seem worth it.

There's a hill on the campus of Wesleyan College in Middletown CT that is excellent for sledding. My friend Dot took me there once with our kids. There were TONS of people, LOTS of ditches and jumps to get your bump on with, and plenty of pre-packed runs that guaranteed the longest ride possible. It was hella fun, made even more so because after we froze in the snow we went to the YMCA and basted out the cold in the therapy pool, which was kept at a consistent 88F and was only 3 feet deep. Bliss. One of the best days I've ever had.

However, the BEST sledding hill was the one behind our street in upstate New York. Man, what a great place. I've written about it before; but for the sake of the newcomers out there here's the quick description: an entire small moutain's linear footage worth of sled run. Took 15 minutes to walk to the top. Wound through a whole woods' worth of tress. Only the big kids went all the way to the top. There were numerous starting points throughout the length of the mountain, the lowest of which still afforded a good 2-minutes worth of sledding down the widest parts of the hill. The boys would get a running start and either flop down of their bellies WITH the sled, or, if they were REALLY good, would place the sled at the top of the hill and LAND on it at full tilt. The girls, sadly, were still trapped in the 60's mentailty of decorum for young ladies, and so generally pushed themselves gently off the top lip of the hill, longing for the courage to hurtle down like their brothers and boy neighbors.

Thinking on it, maybe I was the only girl who longed for that. I'll never know.

I remember putting my lips on the metal steering bar of the sled and having them stick there. I remember the taste of snow on knitted mittens. I remember the sting of wind and snow in my eyes as I raced to the bottom of the hill, praying to make it farther than I ever had before. I remember staying out in the lowering afternoon for just one more run, because when the snow started to re-freeze you could get up some wicked speed. I remember crashing into other kids, and tandem runs holding my best friend's hand across our two sleds, and the toboggan rides that were always a little like daring death, and piling three people on a sled for increased speed. I remember red cheeks and clouds of breath and runny noses and frozen wrists.

That hill was awesome.

Until some new people on the neighborhood decided they didn't want KIDS ripping through their backyard all day/week/winter long, and installed a row of pine trees right across the best part of the hill.

The best part of the hill.

Did this stop us?


I believe the reaction was to flip a mental finger at the new people while hurtling past their back deck, threading the needle through their stupid trees and creating a tunnel in the pines. They were NOT going to beat us.

Until a teenaged girl up the street had the stupidity to ram into one on a tobaggan while trying to use her FOOT to stop the inevitable crash. I can't remember how many pieces her leg was in after this event, but it was certainly many more than God intended it to be in. I can still picture her chalk-white face as my Mom helped load her into the back of our family's station wagon, which was the only car she could ride in with her shattered leg splinted out straight in front of her. She was in a cast for MONTHS.

I stuck with ice-skating on the pond out back after that.

But still, what an awesome sledding hill. There's never been a better one. Ever.


What did YOU do as a kid in the winter? Did you sled? Ski? Skate? Stay inside and play Sega?

I want to know.

No comments: