Thursday, January 19, 2012


For some reason or other, I came to the keyboard this afternoon thinking about sledding.  Perhaps it was the season's worth of snow CNN showed me being dumped on Seattle today.  Perhaps it was JenniJazz and her pooch striding out on the road in front of my picture window.   Perhaps it's the fact that it is January, the middle of winter, and my body is longing for puffy flakes falling on my face. Whatever its genesis, I have the distinct feeling of missing the snow. Little Cuter's email last week said it best
I love how it quiets the city down and makes everything look like Narnia.
Don't get me wrong,  there is no way that I want to live with ice underfoot and feet of crystals to be shoveled.  But every once in a while I get to remembering.....

G'ma putting on her woolen hat with the earflaps and her red flannel jacket with the zillions of pockets and lacing her shoes up while sitting on the steps in the front hall.  Daddooooo was tossing gloves and scarves and mittens down from the top shelf of the closet as Brother begged to be let back into the house.  Unfortunately for him, the front door didn't open if the closet was in use; Daddooooo was fond of stating, in stentorious tones, that two things can't occupy the same space now can they? It made us all nutty.

Once we were dressed and in the car - no seatbelts or front seat restrictions to worry us - Daddoooo invariably disappeared, checking or rechecking or generally making a nuisance of himself.... as G'ma made abundantly if silently clear.  By the time he returned, the grown ups were doing a pretty good job of putting a damper on our enthusiasm, but kids and sled and snow are a pretty unstoppable combination when it comes to glee. Our trips to Bethpage and the hills of the golf course were usually pretty gay affairs.

If it were a Sunday, the Metropolitan Opera would be on WQXR.  Daddooooo would conduct; "Two hands on the wheel, Herbert"  is my acoustic backdrop to opera on the radio to this day.  G'ma continued to kvetch, we continued to squeal, and shortly we were in the parking lot, finding a space right at the entrance to the park because G'ma has the most amazing parking karma on the planet and no one can be in a bad mood when you are out of the car and on your sled while other families are still driving around and around.

Yes, there was a bit of schadenfreude attached to the whole scene, but such was my life on Long Island in the 1950's.

According to, the highest elevation on Long Island is at Jayne's Hill (a.k.a. High Hill), which rises to an underwhelming 400 feet above sea level.  We're not talking black diamond runs on our flexible flyers, denizens.  Daddoooo would start us out pulling our own sleds, but my little sister was too slow and my brother refused to follow a straight path (some things never change, even over decades) and I thought they were all delaying us on purpose so before long he had us tied together, one sled behind the other, all three of us hollering MUSH as he pulled us across the frozen tundra. 

G'ma stayed in the clubhouse, drinking hot chocolate and wondering when we'd be done.

Flexible Flyers were the Ferrari's of the hill, and we had 2 of them.  Our third conveyance was Daddooooo's original sled from his childhood.  Its black runners were just a little bit bigger than the Flyers' and the steering was just a little bit stiffer.  There was a curved seat back and an extremely soft rope which, closing my eyes just now I could imagine in my hands.

Instead of lying on my stomach, face inches from the snow, steering with my palms on the rudder, on Daddooooo's sled I was upright, feet securely braced, steering down the hill with the rope in my hands and my eyes scanning for the bottom.  Was it the SUV of sleds?  Probably.  I loved it. 

We knew the back way to the best hills and those times in the trees were special for me.  We'd arrive at the top of the hill, spared one trip lugging our sleds behind us.  We'd take a moment to scope out the scene.  Who were the crazy kids, going sideways in front of the rest?  We'd avoid them for sure.  Where were the little kids, likely to be going much too slowly to make lining up behind them worthwhile?  Where was the fastest lane... the bumpiest lane.... the longest ride?  Which one would take me past Daddooooo, who would try to pull my hat off as I flew by? 

Up and down and up and down and I never remember being tired or cold.  I was alone on the hill but safely under my Daddy's watchful eye.  I was going fast and I was in control.  Sometimes we'd pile on top of one another, the kid at the bottom doing the steering as those above tried to stay put. It was marvelous.

Someone was always hungry or thirsty or needed a bathroom and G'ma was waiting and we could stop at Nathan's on the way home so when it was time to go it was time to go.  We were sleepy and red-cheeked and falling on one another in the backseat as Daddooooo took the turns just a little bit too quickly so that we could continue to feel the sleds going left and right and bUmP and hear the whooosh and feel the cold and why not roll down that window because we're all overdressed anyhow?

I was 8.


  1. I have to laugh at the parking karma. My hubby has the most amazing parking luck--even at Christmas time. ;)

    I'm missing snow too and the long range forecast for DC is there will not be any significant snow any time soon. I'm always amazed at how quiet it is after a big snow storm. It's so peaceful and serene.

    Here are some pixs from our last big snowstorm.

    Wishing for snow in DC.

    Megan xxx

  2. Magic...

    Perhaps another installment of this series- our trips to Kite Hill?

  3. We had two favorite sledding venues.

    One was in town, just a couple blocks away. Sledding on the (steep) street. Not as dangerous as it sounds, because if the street was covered in frozen white stuff chances were there weren't many cars out, if any. We probably risked more injury from hitting the dip at the foot of the hill -- the intersection -- than we did from hitting a car.

    The best location required us to grow up long enough to drive: pile into somebody's car and go across the river to Washington's Crossing State Park -- a specific location called Bowman's Hill. Sledding down a steep, heavily treed hillside, especially if using one of those hard-to-control pseudo-sledding devices (flattened cardboard box, metal "flying saucer," whatever): until riding the Harry Potter ride at the Universal theme park last year, I think THAT was the most reliably thrilled I've ever felt. I haven't been up in that area the winter for decades, but I think it still attracts people who sledded there in the '50s-70s.

  4. I love snow! I am never tired of it and we get A LOT of it. System snow and lake effect. My friends and family think I am nuts. I love it when the forecast is for a "Winter Storm Warning" and we get dumped on. I love the idea of a snow day away from work when I can sit by the fireplace, read a good book, make chili or stew or soup and I can't go anywhere because my driveway is drifted over. When Big Bob and I were younger, we ALWAYS took a walk in the evening of the first snow. It was always so peaceful and beautiful....maybe we should start doing that again.

  5. We're missing snow these days too... But, the sunshine in Tucson is pretty gorgeous too!

  6. I have a BIG smile on my face.... there was obviously a reason to write about sledding. Kite Hill stories coming up next, I guess :)


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