Next comes the kids. I watch them stomp through the snow with that clumsy walk that means they are carrying heavy layers of clothes on their bodies and foreign boots on their feet. My son, niece, and nephew decide to drag the sleds out of the storage building. Even though it is February, this is the first time all winter there's been enough snow for sledding. My daughter ventures out to take pictures. It's her idea to try the plastic swimming pool, we use for the dogs in the summer, as a sledding device.
I have to see this, so I brave the cold that makes my throat ache with every breath. Our hill is very steep and for a moment I panic. In my mind I have a flash of them barreling down the hill; unable to stop at the bottom, I see them sail off the edge and tumble into the highway. But not to worry. My niece and nephew climb into the pool and my son pushes, and pushes, and PUSHES, but they only manage to move a few inches. Alas, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Back to the sleds. The shouts, the squeals, the laughter, drifts back up the hill to where I stand. I can't see them, but I smile. I too have sledded down that hill, and even though it's been twenty years or more, I remember the ice cold rush of air and snow on my face, the feeling that I was flying, and the hard thump when the sled stopped.
I remember how we trudged up the road that got steeper and steeper until it stopped at the top of a hill. From there, we took our positions. There were usually three or four kids with sleds, all vying for the bragging rights of the "fastest" sled. We'd line up, and since my brother and I shared a sled, the one not sledding would call out: On your mark! Get set! GO! The sleds would take off and most of us would make it all the way to where the road leveled off. I imagine the neighbors got used to our whoops and hollers.
Did I ever win? Probably. I honestly don't remember. But I will never forget the excitement of speeding down that road with the icy wind in my face, my hands already numb from the cold, gripping the steering bar on the sled so hard I would have to pry my fingers off of it when the sled stopped. I remember dragging that sled up the hill until I was so cold and tired I couldn't take another step. And at the end of the day, I remember how my brother and I would sit in the floor with our bare feet pressed against the wall register that blew hot air when the furnace kicked on, trying to warm our feet that were white and numb from staying outside too long.
Ah, let it snow! At least a little while longer.