Snowy days on saucers and sleds


My recent column about snow days prompted a few comments from friends and readers, almost all saying snow days were meant for sledding.
One fellow told me I was crazy to go ice skating when there is snow to play in instead. “Do you realize how long we wait for a perfect day to get the snowmobiles out?” he asked me.
We weren’t lucky enough to have a snowmobile when I was a kid. We had the usual assortment of sleds and a couple of snow saucers, though, and we had the perfect hill for sledding.
Get ready. We remember calling the neighbor kids and making plans to meet at the hill for the thrill of downhill flight. There is just nothing quite like that momentary bliss of adrenaline when the sled finally gets moving in high gear. In my excitement, I tended to forget that I could “steer” that sled and I would end up crashing off of the path. For me, the round saucer was the perfect vehicle for careening down that hill.
We would dress in layers until we looked like chubby little space aliens lost in a snowy paradise. I remember actually getting too warm as we trudged back up that hill. What a great workout!
When I was in third grade, three of our cousins moved back from Illinois and lived in the rental house near our dairy barn. It was such a thrill to have girls our own age so close and it was a great adventure for them to have hills to sled on after having lived in the flat lands of Illinois for most of their young lives.
Meeting place. Kim, Connie and Kris would get bundled up and we would arrange to meet at the top of the hill. We would carry the sleds and saucers, and they would bring a thermos or two of hot chocolate and a couple of blankets. The first one down the hill would trudge over to the tree house and put the thermos and blankets inside for safe keeping.
Once we got the snow packed down just right, each trip down the hill would find us picking up speed. The laughter and the joyous shouting grew with each pass we made.
It seemed we became more and more daring as those snow days wore on. One crazy day we decided we needed to increase our thrill level and we went in search of new territory.
There was a dug-out gravel pit on the farm. It was, in essence, a mountain with a drop-off. Doug and Cindy Smith came over with their long toboggan and we all climbed on. With Doug in the lead spot, he started pulling the long sled and then jumped on board.
Flying high. We were sledding along nicely, heading downhill at a fairly good clip. Suddenly, we took flight. I remember the heady feeling of weightlessness as we took to the air. It was cool and crisp and oh, so wonderful. Until we landed.
It all ended with a jolt of reality, reminding us that what goes up must come down, and coming down can hurt.
We hobbled to the tree house, ready for a soothing sip of lukewarm hot chocolate. We were already remembering what a thrill the airborne moments brought us, already blocking the crash landing from our collective memory.
Ah, there is simply nothing like the snowy bliss of childhood!


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.