Sunday afternoon.........the last one of 2007.
Where I'm sitting, I can see my neighbour's grandchildren sledding on their hill across the street from me. The kids, all around age 5, have made a fast groove in the snow, wide enough to slide belly down on their crazy carpets. Up and down.......stopping on the way up sometimes to sink into the snow to scoop up a mitt full for a frosty taste. They arent feeling the cold at all, partially because they are bundled up in their gear from head to toe, but mostly because they are focused on the fun. The Dad with them, standing and cheering them along?? His shoulders are scrunched up to ward off the cold, his hands are swallowed up by his sleeves and he keeps stomping his feet. He's ready to go inside for something hot to drink. And Grandma? Well, she's the bright one........standing in her big bay window watching from the inside, waving and smiling at her visiting little ones whenever they check to see if she's watching.I remember spending hours doing the same thing just down the street from the house I grew up in, never growing tired of the rush of freedom. We'd build jumps out of the snow to tackle as fast as we could zoom our sleds over, and have races to see who could get down the hill the fastest and who could go the farthest.
On special days, normally after a good snowstorm, my Dad would fill the car with neighbourhood kids and take us to the nearest golf course where the hills were much higher and more daring. Back then, we had a metal toboggan, big enough for 3 or 4 of us to fit on, with a long red plaid cushion attached to it for a little comfort. The front of it was curved up like a candy cane, perfect for deflecting and ploughing through the snow and just right for the brave front end person to stick her clumpy booted feet.
There was a technique to sitting on that toboggan with your friends. Once it was situated properly for downhill delight, the brave frontrunner would get on first, sticking her feet into the curved space, and holding onto the rope attached to the front of the toboggan that was used to pull the darn thing back up the hill. Then the second person would slide in behind with her legs tucked alongside and hugging around the first person's body....... arms in a bear hug to hold on tight. The third and fourth followed suit. As soon as everyone was ready, my Dad would give us a heave ho................... and off we'd go...............
LIKE A BULLET!
LIKE A SCREAMING HOLLERING EXHILARATING BULLET!
Sometimes we'd all manage to stay onboard...............sometimes one or two would tumble off into the safe soft snow............ until the toboggan would come to a slow stop.
stop.......................... then we'd all breathe again............laughing and recounting the ride.
I don't know if they still make those big heavy metal slides. Given how we do our very best to avoid all danger at all costs, to protect our children from anything that sniffs of risk, to try to place them in bubble wrap, I doubt it.
After a good long while, we'd all tumble back into the car, our doubled up woolen mitts covered in tiny snowballs, the bottoms of our sweaters that managed to escape the tuck into the snowpant encrusted in ice.........our feet feeling the cold finally......and our rosy cheeked faces feeling the burn of the heat in the car........we'd head home to hand warming, inside warming hot chocolate and snacks to recharge our energy. An afternoon of tobogganing guaranteed sound sleeping that night.
Sunday afternoons............ my favourite time of the week, especially in the wintertime when there's something savoury in the oven, and relaxation permeates. Music fills the background with sounds of violins, or fiddles, or guitars...........melodic melodies paced the same as my own. Today however, as I found myself at the grocery store stocking up for New Years and beyond, filling the cupboards before the next storm arrives tomorrow, I had a grumbling feeling about how long this winter is feeling already. I was hit with the dread that it will be a long time before we see any signs of life again............nature's life.
It made me feel heavy in my longing to push time ahead, as I carried the groceries into the house and put them away. But, then I heard the excitement of my son as he pulled on his snow gear again to hit the hills. Then I heard the uplifting warm music on the radio. Then I looked out the window and saw joy sliding down on their bellies.
And I remembered what it takes to ward off the deep chill Canadian cold. Sometimes, you just gotta bundle up and focus on the fun.............