This one from December 19, 2012
One of my favorite things as a kid was sliding face first down a hill of freshly packed snow.
Sometimes even on a sled.
Well, mostly on a sled…my flexible flyer to be specific.
At least I think it was a Flexible Flyer.
Now that I think of it, it might have been a Flexible Flyer knock off from Woolworths, because I’m not having too many flexible memories other than a lot of crashing into trees and light poles.
But that was more than half the fun…at least for me.
In fact sleigh riding is one of my top three favorite winter memories.
The other two are filling my pockets with snow…and filling my cousin’s pocket with snow.
I remember the Christmas I found that oddly shaped, package tucked under the tree, like it was yesterday. I was so unaware, that I hadn’t a clue what it could be.
Let’s see…about four feet long by a foot wide.
Maybe it was a football!
I was 6…I had spacial recognition issues…undiagnosed.
My mom and dad watched as I curiously twisted and turned the package this way and that, as I was prone to do with all my plunder, wanting to savor each and every holiday moment to its fullest extent…which could take a while, seeing as I had about 200 hundred or so presents to work my way through...some of them even mine.
“Maybe it’s a train set!”
“Why don’t you just open it instead of guessing?” my mom would say, hoping to start breakfast sometime before noon.
“Or an Easy Bake Oven!”
I liked to bake.
Eventually my dad decided to “help” me open this peculiarly wrapped item, and lo and behold…there it was: a shiny new sled.
Much sleeker and shiner than the my old sled—which my gramps picked up at a rummage sale—that still had the remnants of a name carved into it…something like “Joe’s Mud” or Moe’s Tub” or “Slow Dud”.
Something like that.
I always thought it was an odd thing to write on a sled, but who’s to judge?
Anyway, no one was really sure what it meant exactly, other than rust doesn’t slide very well on snow.
But not my brand new Inflexible Flyer.
My brand new Inflexible Flyer really could fly…over Hill and Dale…and sometimes Mike, Phil, Pam and Wendy…my other sledding buddies.
Of course one needs a hill and some snow before one can fully enjoy the wonders of the sleigh.
The hill part was easy since I lived near the park where there were actually three hills, varying in degrees of difficulty.
The snow part was a little trickier, though…especially when you’re waiting for it, as if it were another Christmas day.
But, just as Christmas always arrived, sooner or later, a nice fluffy blanket of virgin powder would drop from the sky and off to the park we’d go, sleds in tow.
I mentioned there were three hills with varying degrees of difficulty.
The first was nothing more than a bunny hill, but a good starting point for the novice sledder.
You just had to watch out for…or at least be aware of… the small little brook that ran across the bottom of this short incline.
Which I did for the most part…most of the time…but it was super cool to be able to stand your frozen snowsuit up in the corner when you came home.
The second hill, across the way from the first hill, was a little steeper in nature, but without the brook to worry about. However, it backed up to a large 10 foot high stone wall, so there was very little wiggle room to maneuver along the top ridge. And if the hill happened to be icy slick that day, as it often was after a couple of hundred kids stomped all over it, many a sled farer was known to begin his trip down the hill prematurely, with or without his sled.
Then of course, even if your ride was successful, and you managed to slide all the way across the park…getting back up the hill could be problematic…unless you were outfitted by the Mt. Kilimanjaro base camp team.
The final hill was off to the side, but really only suited for the big boys, or the little boys with a death wish…or at least a wish to walk around with a limp and a cauliflower ear for several days.
Narrow and steep, it required a steady hand and a really, really flexible flyer to maneuver around the multiple pines strewn all about; not to mention the wooden backstops attached to the rear of the horse shoe pits.
I didn’t worry too much about those wooden backstops, however, since I was usually jammed, sled and all, between the branches of a balsam fir tree, way before I made it down that far.
Still, every once in a while I managed to navigate those menacing trees and the first row of horseshoe barriers…and I can’t tell you what a thrill that was.
Until, of course, I hit the second row of wooden barriers and jettisoned, sans sled, into yet another pine.
Which I found oddly exhilarating.
As did my mom, who would often get a little woozy after I limped in the door with a black eye and something that once resembled an ear.
Needless to say, I went through a lot of sleds in my youth, and my mom a lot of novenas.
Not sure why.
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