All last winter, when we had some record snowfall, I promised Cecelia we’d go sledding. Sadly, I never lived up to that promise, so after we got hit with the first big noreaster of the season, I got on the ball and got the sled out.
Here’s Cecelia dramatically pleading for help to climb up the fifteen feet of hill to take another ride down. We went to Jenkintown High School playing field and spent a good hour or so in 20-something degree weather.
I loved sledding as a child. It ranked probably in my top five things to do at the time. Living in Three Rivers, Massachusetts, we had ample opportunities and plenty of hillsides to throw ourselves down upon. I sledded with just about anything with a flat surface, including old boxes and snow shovels, but I fondly remember my Snow Wing and my Speedaway sled.
One winter, someone with a snowmobile made a long (at least as I remember it) path up the hill to the watertanks. One of my friends discovered it, and for probably about a week or so, all the kids in town enjoyed using a kind of mini bobsled course. The path winded down from the tanks, around various obstacles and moguls until it took a hard 90-degree turn, ending in someone’s back yard. You could not do this course with a sled, because you’d gather too much speed to make the turn at the bottom and crash into the brush. I know, because I tried it many times.
Unfortunately, my childhood occurred during a period of relatively little snowfall. Big storms happened maybe twice a year, and the accumulated snow would melt away within a few days. We had a handful of white Christmases in my lifetime.
Despite her drama and frequent complaints about soggy gloves, Cecelia laughed and screamed all the way down the hill, and as kids will do, even played up the tragedy of falling out of the sled on hard turns. I’ll hate seeing her lose the wonder of these experiences as I did at one point. It came back in my late 20s after hearing a piece on NPR about the joys of sledding. I immediately went back home and grabbed my sled and took it to the nearest hill. At that time, I still had the sense of abandon that allowed me to race down the hillside without much concern for my mortality. That doesn’t happen any more, I’m afraid. I shot down those twenty feet myself just to try, and got reminded of all the aches and pains I’ve accumulated in my middle age.
Now, I enjoy the experience through my daughter’s laughter, and that’s good enough.