Gloves, Grandpa’s, Geese and Good Times


Our past few winters haven’t brought good, ground – covering snows that make the kind of sled riding I remember as a kid. So when schools closed recently because of snow, I took time off work, found all our gloves that shed water and threw them in a bag, and took my girls to Grandpa’s place (the farm with great slopes for sledding were I grew up). We lifted the “Flexible Flyers” down from their nails in the part of the old barn that has been made into a garage.

There was almost too much snow. We plowed through it with the sleds for several passes before we had a path that was packed enough to pick up speed on. As our path became cleared and slick, I added a few feet at the end of each ride. Finally, I was too tired to start the climb back up the hill right away.

The weather was mild compared to the bitter cold we had been waking up to days before. I lay back on my sled and looked at the sky. A din of bird sounds rose from the thick growth of trees and brush that now covered the old spoil pile at the edge of the property. I soaked up the calm, cold afternoon and looked at the sky. A formation of geese called to each other – or maybe to the world below – as they passed over. I counted them carefully from one end, then the other. There were 29.

Back in the house, we hung our wet, nylon outer layers near the wood stove to dry. While hot chocolate was heating, we raided Grandpa’s snack cupboard for something to go with it. Then he watched the girls play Sorry at the opposite end of the table from the paper work he had spread out on his end, and I took the little household oil can I had brought with me, swept off the sleds, toweled off the runners, rubbed a few beads of oil down each blade, and hung them back in the barn.

We headed for home. We’d been there only a couple hours. It was one of those times when I’m surprised how much can be done in a short time (it’s usually something I didn’t plan or spend time thinking about that just happens).

I wish we could live every day without clocks and schedules, but they do help me appreciate the times I don’t have to have them. It was well worth the lost work hours to spend time with my family – play time. For a couple hours, I felt as free as the 29 geese.

Children’s author and illustrator week is February 2 – 8. Visit your favorite library, find a book you liked as a child, and read to a young person in your life – or just re-read it yourself!

One of my picks is the Five Chinese Brothers, by Claire Huchet Bishop, Kurt Wiese (Illustrator). I love how one brother holds the sea in his swollen cheeks and then spits it all back again!

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