Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sliding Around in the Snow: Sledding


Elizabeth, 36

It must have been a snow day in 1982 or 1983 because there were no dads at home, no little brothers playing with us, and our mothers (mine and my neighborhood friends') seemed inclined to ignore us completely, which was typical of those days that school was unexpectedly cancelled and they had plenty of other things do do for that day for which they did not really want the help of little hands.  

We lived on a hill, and our block of Surfside Drive was a short one--just three houses faced the street between the corners of Catskill and Rainier.  We had a house on a lot that started out flat at the corner of Surfside and Catskill. Our side yard was ideal for playing soccer, whiffle ball and volley ball.  Then the yard began to roll downward, like a ship listing to starboard.  It took a drastic tilt at my neighbor's house and continued to plunge down past the third and last house facing Surfside before finally dumping out into the backyard of the first house facing Rainier at the end of the block.

My sister and I had our orange plastic sled out, the same one my kids use now, and were pathetically sledding in our own backyard.  You know it's bad when one kid has to get out of the sled and pull it down the hill to get it going.  So we were thrilled when our next door neighbor appeared.

"Wanna sled?" we asked.  He had a great hill in his yard but no sled, so he was pretty happy to have us bring our sled over to his yard.  The three of us piled in the orange sled.  He was the smallest, so he sat at the front. My sister, the second smallest, took the middle, and I sat at the back.  We whooshed down his hill a few times pretty happily, but then we looked next door at our other neighbor's house.  Her hill went down about six more feet than his did.  We gazed on it with envy until she came out.

"Let's sled!" we suggested before she'd even closed the door behind her.

"Okay," she said, and we did one run down her longer hill.  As we pulled the sled back up, though, my neighbor gazed at the final hill of the block.  It ran from the side of her backyard into the backyard of the house facing Rainier.  It was at least twenty-feet longer than her hill with a steeper grade and, best of all, a terraced garden at the bottom.

"If we went down that hill, it would be like going off a ski jump," she suggested.

We didn't need to be asked twice.  We piled into the sled at the top of the hill and zoomed down.

I'm not even sure what happened.  We may have flipped on the ground, in the air, or just have been tossed out when the sled hit the railroad ties that created the terrace.  In any case, we all ended up rolling on the ground at the bottom of the hill.  The neighbor boy thought he had broken a bone--he always thought he had a broken bone.  My elbows hurt, and my sister was crying just a little.  Only the girl in the third house wanted to go again.

We didn't sled down that hill again that year, but we tested it again from time to time in the future.

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